Review by jenjayfromSA -- McDowell by William H. Coles

This forum is for volunteer reviews by members of our review team. These reviews are done voluntarily by the reviewers and are published in this forum, separate from the official professional reviews. These reviews are kept separate primarily because the same book may be reviewed by many different reviewers.
Post Reply
User avatar
jenjayfromSA
Posts: 200
Joined: 19 Jun 2017, 03:44
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 10
2017 Reading Goal: 24
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 58
Currently Reading: First Family
Bookshelf Size: 60
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-jenjayfromsa.html
Latest Review: Zeus Defied by Rez Khan
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Review by jenjayfromSA -- McDowell by William H. Coles

Post by jenjayfromSA » 10 Oct 2018, 08:43

[Following is a volunteer review of "McDowell" by William H. Coles.]
Book Cover
4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


Ultimately, we can only know another human being by what he says and does.

That is exactly what author William H Coles gives us in McDowell; an objective examination of a man as seen from different angles – wife, children, co-workers, colleagues, friends, media and the ever-judging public with its own agenda. They surround him like a circle of spotlights flashing on and off. I found this approach challenging and refreshing. The facts are presented, and the reader is left to draw his own conclusions according to his own standards.

At first glance Hiram McDowell is a remarkable man, privileged, wealthy, intelligent, good looking, a top surgeon, philanthropist and an adventurous mountaineer with the means to pursue his passion. We soon discover he is also completely self-centred, so focussed on himself and his achievements, so convinced he is justified in all he does, that he is oblivious to the way he affects others. He is blind to their pain, hurt, anger, resentment, hate, lack of self-worth and need for revenge.

The writing is clear and concise, unemotional and distanced. We watch objectively as McDowell destroys his wife and damages his children, an accusation he would deny while citing the times he stretched out a paternalistic, patronising hand to rescue them.

Inevitably, McDowell falls. Thrown out of his high position, he is convicted of murder for euthanising his seriously handicapped grandson. He believes absolutely that he has been victimised, that he is innocent of all charges. He realises he has a choice - to remain an embittered victim refusing to take responsibility for his actions and their impact, or to find out what life is supposed to be about.

Coles brings to life the people McDowell encounters after escaping from prison, the little people living their lives on the fringes of society who have their own stories to tell and values to impart. They include wise, clear-eyed Maud; Hulga with her unrequited dreams of love; Winona, finding her own peace in the desert; and a charming portrait of Gatemouth Willie Brown, a jazz guitarist in the streets of New Orleans.

I wondered how this was to end. The gradual development of understanding could not be replaced with a triumphant epiphany; it would destroy all the realism that went before. The author was ahead of me. The ending was elegant, understandable and thoroughly in keeping, rounding off the novel neatly.

This was a drama that made me ponder on the big questions of life and meaning, something I always cherish, while telling a vivid and nuanced story. I recommend McDowell to readers who are interested in character and motivation in a story which is probably best categorised as Other Fiction. I give this 4 out of 4 stars.

******
McDowell
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on iTunes | on Smashwords

Like jenjayfromSA's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
Sicily Joy
Posts: 205
Joined: 25 May 2018, 23:57
2019 Reading Goal: 48
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 2
2018 Reading Goal: 60
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 15
Currently Reading: Everything, Everything
Bookshelf Size: 892
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sicily-joy.html
Latest Review: The Engine Woman's Light by Laurel Anne Hill

Post by Sicily Joy » 28 Oct 2018, 14:19

Thanks for your great review. McDowell sounds like a fascinating character. I am interested in how he falls from grace since he goes from a great career to escaping prison.

charmperit
Posts: 65
Joined: 25 Sep 2018, 06:29
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 14
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-charmperit.html
Latest Review: Pastoring is not what you think by Elijah Oladimeji

Post by charmperit » 15 Nov 2018, 13:21

Describing a man from different perspectives - I think that is a good way to present a character. The story seems to have full of twists and unexpected revelations. Thanks for the review!

User avatar
Espie
Member of the Month
Posts: 2164
Joined: 05 May 2018, 06:36
2019 Reading Goal: 12
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 25
2018 Reading Goal: 12
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 116
Currently Reading: River Kids
Bookshelf Size: 101
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-espie.html
Latest Review: Pastoring is not what you think by Elijah Oladimeji

Post by Espie » 17 Dec 2018, 17:44

Ultimately, we can only know another human being by what he says and does.
That's what integrity is all about. However, such a virtue is more often better spoken than carried perfectly embodied. For us humans, what's ideal is not always the reality; that's being "human," too. I do hope we all get to have and maximise our subsequent chances in life and living. Thank you for your honest review.
"Life has many different chapters for us. One bad chapter doesn't mean it's the end of the book."-Unknown
"To err is human; to forgive, divine."-Alexander Pope
"Put GOD first; He'll bless your efforts with success."-Proverbs

User avatar
LV2R
Posts: 657
Joined: 25 Apr 2018, 22:28
2019 Reading Goal: 75
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 16
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 150
Favorite Book: And Then I Met Margaret
Currently Reading: Alaska Man
Bookshelf Size: 156
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-lv2r.html
Latest Review: The Transformation of a Lost Soul (second edition) by Forrest J. Beverly Sr.

Post by LV2R » 17 Dec 2018, 20:55

jenjayfromSA wrote:
10 Oct 2018, 08:43
[Following is a volunteer review of "McDowell" by William H. Coles.]

Ultimately, we can only know another human being by what he says and does.

I wondered how this was to end. The gradual development of understanding could not be replaced with a triumphant epiphany; it would destroy all the realism that went before. The author was ahead of me. The ending was elegant, understandable and thoroughly in keeping, rounding off the novel neatly.

This was a drama that made me ponder on the big questions of life and meaning, something I always cherish, while telling a vivid and nuanced story.
After reading McDowell and many reviews of the book, I have to say that you really nailed it! I love how you not only summarized the story but also got the nuances of the meanings of the character. I also liked how you did not give away any spoilers of the ending, but you described it well. Keep writing reviews like this one.

User avatar
Sakilunamermaid
Posts: 487
Joined: 18 Jan 2018, 22:29
2019 Reading Goal: 30
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 3
2018 Reading Goal: 52
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 44
Currently Reading: Ready Player One
Bookshelf Size: 471
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by Sakilunamermaid » 17 Dec 2018, 21:26

I enjoy books that leave it to your own judgement to deem someone's acts/ character. The details of his actions and words given through others perspective is something I look forward to reading. It is often that a book can be written from the protagonist's perspective and draw them in a biased and often overly generous/ positive light. I wonder how I will feel about him by the end of the book. It can be quite hard to objectively look at a person and their acts accordingly and not make excuses.

User avatar
Caylie_Cat
Posts: 304
Joined: 17 Sep 2018, 01:23
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 21
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-caylie-cat.html
Latest Review: The Traveler's Best Seller by Rick Incorvia

Post by Caylie_Cat » 18 Dec 2018, 00:12

I read this book a month or so ago, and really did not enjoy it at all. It is very interesting to consider other people's perception of the same words. I think the lack of emotion and distance that you mentioned really soured it for me as I believe the bones of the story are good, but it lacked depth. Thank you for an excellent review and for sharing another perspective.

User avatar
Nerea
Posts: 373
Joined: 11 May 2018, 05:13
2018 Reading Goal: 10
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 80
Currently Reading: The Warramunga's War
Bookshelf Size: 141
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-nerea.html
Latest Review: Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks by Morton E Tavel, MD

Post by Nerea » 18 Dec 2018, 03:00

The story of McDowell is quite interesting and educational. I like how you analysed and summarised the story in a clear and concise manner. Thank you for your honest review.
"Regular reading improves your grammar."

Kajori50
Posts: 682
Joined: 10 Aug 2018, 15:10
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 48
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kajori50.html
Latest Review: Adrift by Charlie Sheldon

Post by Kajori50 » 18 Dec 2018, 07:13

McDowell is a complicated character. His story is bound to be interesting.

Thank you for the great review.

User avatar
Shrabastee
Posts: 1042
Joined: 23 Mar 2018, 00:38
2019 Reading Goal: 30
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 26
2018 Reading Goal: 20
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 185
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Favorite Book: The Warramunga's War
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 326
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-shrabastee.html
Latest Review: The Traveler's Best Seller by Rick Incorvia

Post by Shrabastee » 18 Dec 2018, 09:20

I loved your take on this book. Having also read and reviewed this book myself, I agree with you that McDowell was surprisingly oblivious to the effect he had on others. Just like you, I also wondered about the end, but when the end came, I felt like it had to be this way. Thanks so much for your insights on this book.

User avatar
Cotwani
Posts: 1423
Joined: 01 Nov 2017, 16:12
2019 Reading Goal: 50
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 6
2018 Reading Goal: 200
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 10
2017 Reading Goal: 200
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 4
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 172
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cotwani.html
Latest Review: The Biblical Clock by Daniel Friedmann and Dania Sheldon

Post by Cotwani » 18 Dec 2018, 13:05

I agree McDowell is a book that forces one to ask tough questions. Your review made me wonder which of the spotlights - wife, children, co-workers, colleagues, friends, media and the ever-judging public showed him in good light. Great review!
There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island!
-Walt Disney

User avatar
ParadoxicalWoman
Posts: 691
Joined: 25 Oct 2017, 06:42
2019 Reading Goal: 50
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 0
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 76
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 374
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-paradoxicalwoman.html
Latest Review: Heartaches 3 by H.M. Irwing

Post by ParadoxicalWoman » 19 Dec 2018, 01:13

Having reading this book myself when it was the BOTD, I couldn't agree more with you. I was impressed with Maud who is bold enough to deal with a person like Hiram. My favourite part was his transformation from being a self-centered person to a person with empathy.
"Read in order to live." ~Gustave Flaubert
"Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

User avatar
Lunastella
Posts: 641
Joined: 27 Apr 2018, 16:22
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 12
Currently Reading: The Ordinary Doll
Bookshelf Size: 785
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-lunastella.html
Latest Review: The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye

Post by Lunastella » 20 Dec 2018, 20:52

That is exactly what author William H Coles gives us in McDowell; an objective examination of a man as seen from different angles – wife, children, co-workers, colleagues, friends, media and the ever-judging public with its own agenda. They surround him like a circle of spotlights flashing on and off. I found this approach challenging and refreshing. The facts are presented, and the reader is left to draw his own conclusions according to his own standards.
You're right! Honestly, I hadn't noticed. I was so focused on hating Hiram that I overlooked this great asset of the novel.
Your review is simply amazing. Your use of words is clear, powerful and elegant and I enjoyed very much reading both your insights and your experience with the book. Thanks.

User avatar
Charine
Posts: 91
Joined: 06 May 2017, 07:38
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 212
Currently Reading: Pride and Prejudice
Bookshelf Size: 173
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-charine.html
Latest Review: Raven's Peak by Lincoln Cole

Post by Charine » 05 Jan 2019, 04:16

You made clear and concise statements, yet I do not gather an emotional reaction from you. This might be due to the fact that you mentioned the author wrote objectively? Thanks for a great review, but I will be skipping this novel.
"You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget."
- Cormac McCarthy

Post Reply

Return to “Volunteer Reviews”