4 out of 4 stars
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The book opens with Hiram McDowell near the summit of a mountain, as he abandons his dying teammate. Hiram then arrives home, to a wife, who is upset over infidelities and children who could not be less enthusiastic about his presence. The next chapter sees Hiram as he makes and breaks promises to ensure his political aspirations. As the story goes on, Hiram McDowell becomes even more unlikable in his pursuit of wealth and recognition.
Eventually, however, the very actions that led to his success, also lead to his downfall. Now Hiram fears even uttering his real name to his new friends. These friends are the same people he once thought were beneath him. Hiram tries hard to create a new life, one free from his past mistakes. As he does this, those from his old life is left wondering if he deserved all that happened to him.
William H. Coles is the writer of McDowell and Story in Literary Fiction is the listed publisher of the book. It consists of 347 standard pages.
McDowell contains several interesting characters. At the forefront, it is the story of a narcissistic and chauvinist man, who will stop at nothing to appease his aspirations, political or otherwise. Society must perceive his family life as perfect. Privately, however, he acknowledges that it is not so. He ensures that there is no way to find him at fault for the discrepancies in the research he headed. The list goes on and on, as Hiram McDowell pursues his definition of success. The full cost of his success, however, comes when he no longer has that success.
I have been rooting for the downfall of Hiram from page one. He possesses unlikable traits, which change over time. The degree of his change, however, is not highlighted. Despite this, Hiram is seen adjusting to a life that is the complete opposite of what he previously enjoyed. Hiram is not the only unlikable character, and this is a good thing. None of the characters in this book qualifies as perfect. Each character is flawed in one way or another. Even the journalist after the big story has redeeming elements.
The plot is intriguing, and the writing flows smoothly. The author interweaves various topics in such a manner that it is not confusing. None of the issues overshadows each other. For instance, one of the themes is mental illness. One of Hiram’s daughters suffers from anxiety. Due to the events that unfold in her family, her condition worsens.
I am not sure how I feel about Hiram’s character development. Sometimes, it is as though he is on the edge of some fantastic self-discovery. Other times, not so much. I felt as though there was little emphasis on Hiram’s change. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, the book was not just about Hiram, but also about how his actions affected the lives of others.
At times, the writing style did not engage me, but interest the plot evoked made up for this. I only found one mistake, which given the size of the book, is insignificant.
I rate McDowell 4 out of 4 stars. It is a thought-provoking book. I would recommend this book to adults, although, I do not see why mature 16 years old persons would not enjoy it.
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