4 out of 4 stars
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McDowell by William H. Coles is one of the few good reads I have come across lately. It solely reflects on the importance of humanity through the many changes in life the intricate character called McDowell goes through. The beginning of the novel is very intriguing as Hiram McDowell, despite being a celebrated surgeon, leaves his hiking mate to die in the biting coldness of the oxygen deficient atmosphere up a mountain in Nepal as he himself carries on with his journey down to safety. As time progresses, we learn that he doesn’t care about his third wife who has reluctantly given in to an open marriage lifestyle. His wife’s daughters do not exchange even a word with Hiram and his son gets into trouble with one of them, all being under the same roof.
McDowell has cheated his way through to become the president of the International College of Surgeons. Surprisingly, he seems to be concerned only about his children. There comes a time in his life when his mentally sick grandson fails in his suicide attempt after committing multiple murders and gets hospitalized in an extremely critical stage only to die in a mysterious manner, causing McDowell to be convicted of second-degree murder. Quite soon, he manages to break out of prison and live as a runaway, whose story is of immense importance to a journalist trying to keep her job as she battles with the sexism hurled at her. McDowell now gets schooled by his life that gradually opens his mind to a spiritual good.
The story is immensely gripping and there isn’t a part of the novel that I wanted to skip or read later. It is still very timely since a lot of the things in those chapters can be well related to the present social aspect. For instance, the insensitive and arrogant McDowell who is somehow in a position of power is a replica of the abuse of power that very well takes place in the real world and the condition of the female characters in the novel sadly reminded me that it is no better for uncountable women in reality. There are no overly descriptive paragraphs that can be carved out as the stuff of boredom even though every chapter is amazingly eventful.
The novel stroked my eerie curiousity and love for unpredictable characters that seem to be blindly doing just what they want without another care in the world. At the same time, I was moved by how individual characters appeared to go through their respective uniquely difficult lives which shaped each of them so differently. They are bold and unafraid as they try to make the best out of life although they don’t really pay much attention to what readers may initially think is completely lacking only in McDowell – the humanistic essence.
I think that this meaningful novel should be read and reread at various stages of life to fully grasp what it actually is about. The perspective of every character is one of the most interesting things to explore. Due to its flawless way with words and a carefully spun story, I recommend McDowell to book lovers. Hence, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
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