4 out of 4 stars
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Imagine a story where drama in the medical, legal, and religious arenas meld together to tell a tale that will make your head spin. You will wonder what is true, and who is telling the truth, as many tests of humanity unfold in William H. Coles’ The Spirit of Want.
Luke Osbourne is an up and coming eye surgeon in the early years of his career. A.J. MacMiel is his boss, as well as his mentor. Elizabeth and Lucy are A.J.’s adult daughters. A catastrophic event pushes Luke and Lucy together, with a quick wedding to follow. Their daughter, Jennifer, is being mostly raised by the nanny. Elizabeth and her mom, Agnes, are often responsible for Jennifer, much to the frustration of one of them.
Lucy’s law practice keeps her on her toes, with a colossal ongoing case involving a well-known televangelist of national interest. She discovers just how complex the business of religion is, as well as how much people will do to protect their own. How does this case impact the rest of their lives? Can a marriage survive when both parties are drawn in too many different directions?
There is quite a bit of mystery and intrigue in Luke’s workplace as well. So many at the Institute are focused on shielding their careers from the controversies rather than on resolving the issues. Will that make it impossible to know what really happened to some patients? Luke has many decisions to make, as he is a man who is ruled by his strong principles of integrity.
Coles demonstrates the complexity of relationships in many different ways. Marriage is not just built on love, but also on history and need. It is not always easy to guess which marriages will survive and which ones will flourish in The Spirit of Want, as the complexities go far deeper than the surface. True love can be found, but it is not always obvious and is often surprising. Relationships between family members can be strained when the adopted child feels left out, or when one is hiding a huge part of their life from the ones they love. Medical issues among the family members add to the development of both the characters and the various relationships.
It is clear that Coles has done vast research on the three major fields. The legal discussions and proceedings show the legal process at work in a very realistic manner. The descriptions of various types of medical issues and the associated care go well below what is typically seen in a novel. The complexity of big religion is stunning, yet very authentic. It is not just about faith, and sometimes, it is not about faith at all.
Delving into this story was fascinating, but not a surprise as Coles’ work has always been remarkable, in my experience. There really was not anything to not like, and the only minor weaknesses are mentioned below.
There are two minor issues with grammar and formatting. “Jennifer” is spelled “Jenifer” in chapter 16. There are blank pages between some chapters but not between others. Neither of these issues distracts one from the story; therefore, they will not impact the rating.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The story is engaging, well thought out and unique. Readers who enjoy mystery, intrigue and exploring multiple emotions in a story will enjoy The Spirit of Want. Sometimes upsetting things happen to children, which some readers may find distressing, preferring to avoid.
The Spirit of Want
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