4 out of 4 stars
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McDowell BY WILLIAM H. COLES
McDowell is introduced at the very first instance on a mountain climbing expedition alongside his friend who he leaves for dead, too exhausted to continue. It is a defining moment in his character with his mean and over ambitious nature playing out at several instances of the novel. In the chapters that follow, McDowell’s family is introduced and how he actually relates to them; Carole and her two daughters, his three children Sophie, Ann and Billie who he has a soft spot for. He views almost all in his life women as sex objects an attitude that he does not extend to his son Billie. Socially and financially, McDowell seems set for life even managing to clinch his desired position as the president of International College. It is unfortunate that morally, McDowell has taken a turn for the worst stepping on anyone and everything including Michael O’Leary just to get to serve himself. It is no shock that he takes the life of his grandson Jeremy worst mistake that leads to his trial and imprisonment.
Hitting rock bottom is probably the best thing that could have happened to McDowell as he finally realizes there is only one way left to go and that is up. Thus after he escapes from prison; he starts on a path of redemption in Montana. His path is largely aided by the new people in his life like Maud that help him re-evaluate his choices but at the same time thwarted by the fact that he is a fugitive.
Coles’ McDowell has successfully highlighted the plight of women. Throughout the novel, female characters face a lot of challenges in society that is dominated by men. An encounter with Shristi and how she is forced to live with goats during her periods is heart breaking. She is forced to live outside her home with the country such as Kathmandu village where there is no security at the mercy of all the dangers that come with it.
Paige Sterling’s career is also in the verge of coming to an end due to the sexist society she is in. she is the first woman at the Week’s End Television program me. But this according to Rosenthal is a man’s work to be a star while women lag behind. Coles has used Rosenthal to show how women are looked down upon in their quest for excellence. Paige is demoted but does not stop in her struggle. Amara on the other hand is being used by Rosenthal as a sex object in order to be successful in her career.
Hiram is also portrayed as a sexist; he views women as sex objects where they do not deserve to be loved. He has a cold heart; he knows no love for a woman. All women are the same. He breaks Carole’s heart and never cared to love her. He had a mistress in Nepal, Rima who was his sex object during his trips. All his life he never saw a woman as being special that deserves to be cared for. At some point, what he did to women got up with him through his daughter Ann who is also struggling in her marriage. She is not shown love.
I particularly liked the fact that the book was able to stir deep-seated emotions of love, hate, pain but most importantly redemption all at the same time about a single character; Hiram McDowell. I however failed to appreciate the author’s need to suddenly introduce some characters like Jane bringing out a sense of confusion. More interesting of all the things in the novel was Hiram’s full transformation evolving from a total megalomaniac into a simple beggar capable of love and empathy in a life time. The least likable thing about the book was the extreme wave of violence and murder evident at most instances in the novel.
I rate this book 4 out of 4stars; informed by the fact there were only few typos evidence that it was professionally edited. It is the kind of book likely to appeal to people who love mystery in fiction. Scenes of sexual activities and violence would not appeal to some readers especially those who love peaceable romantic novels.
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