Review by Values_and_standards -- McDowell

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Doug Jones
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Review by Values_and_standards -- McDowell

Post by Doug Jones » 21 Sep 2018, 19:21

[Following is a volunteer review of "McDowell" by William H. Coles.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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In McDowell, William H. Coles has presented a compelling story of atonement. The atoner is the titular character, Hiram McDowell, who is introduced to us as a gifted surgeon, a ruthless careerist, a shameless philanderer, and in general an amoral, nasty piece of work. His only redeeming feature is his love of his children. That aside, there is nothing to like about Hiram McDowell, and those who he has mistreated in the book will concur with the reader that he needs taking down a peg or two.

Indeed, this is the initial hook of the story. McDowell is so narcissistic, callous and unlikeable that the reader will want to see him get his comeuppance. And when it comes, it is shattering for McDowell, and ultimately sobering. Stripped of his power and prestige, forced to go on the run from the law, he is forced to learn virtue while living as a poor fugitive. And this spiritual awakening sees the struggle of a deeply flawed man making an effort to become a better person.

What keeps the reader turning the pages is curiosity over how McDowell copes with his downfall, and then curiosity over how his personal struggle will pan out. The initial contempt that McDowell evokes gives way to understanding and eventually sympathy. The issues that McDowell confronts in his self-examination are ones that most of us have to deal with at some level, and Coles deserves credit for relaying these issues without being didactic or preachy in their presentation.

McDowell contrasts favorably with another of Coles’ novels, The Spirit of Want. The pacing of McDowell is much better, with the characters fleshed-out more plausibly and the sub-plots better realized. However, all of this works as support to the main story arc of McDowell’s personal journey. Though McDowell starts off as a worse person than Lucy in The Spirit of Want, he becomes in the end what Lucy never succeeded in being – a likeable protagonist that the reader could, with qualifications, identify with.

I have no hesitation in giving McDowell 4 out of 4 stars. Coles has provided a well-written and engrossing chronicle of how even the worst of us can improve with honest self-examination and genuine effort, and a story that can provide that is one that everyone can benefit from reading. In short, I recommend McDowell to everyone.

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McDowell
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Rosebella
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Post by Rosebella » 01 Oct 2018, 12:46

Sound like a good read. I like characters that I can love to hate. I've read a few of author's books and I think I will pick this book for my next review.
Good review. :tiphat: :tiphat:

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Doug Jones
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Post by Doug Jones » 01 Oct 2018, 13:54

Thanks, Rosebella. Let me know when your review is up, I'd like to see your take on it.

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Georgia Lyonhyde
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Post by Georgia Lyonhyde » 01 Oct 2018, 18:20

You have painted a picture of a character everyone loves to hate. I'm rather torn now as having read other reviews for this book, I think I could grow to love him if his retribution is handled well. I must read this book!!!
You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
–Paul Sweeney :tiphat:

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Doug Jones
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Post by Doug Jones » 02 Oct 2018, 01:08

Well, Georgia, I think you should. Whatever your assessment of Hiram himself ends up being, I'd be surprised if you got nothing from the book. If you review it, let me know.

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Post by Fozia-Bajwa » 02 Oct 2018, 09:53

Hi I read your review of the book McDowell by William H. Coles. You have said that McDowell is a narcissist. No doubt he is a selfish person, at each and every cost he loves selfness. You have said well and correct about McDowell.

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JuliaKay
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Post by JuliaKay » 02 Oct 2018, 14:35

I haven't completed the book, but from the sample, I was turned-off by Hiram. It would be interesting to read about his redemption. I agree with you that what kept me curious was how his story would play out - how he would handle his downfall and redeem himself. I thought that some of his narcissistic traits were so bad that I wanted to read more - I was loving the loathing I felt for him! Thanks for your review.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
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