4 out of 4 stars
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If ever there was a book that should not be judged by its cover, it is William H. Coles’, Mc Dowell. The demure portrait of a mature male figure on the cover is a stark contrast to the mountain climbing, womanizing and identity remaking encountered in the enigmatic character of Mc Dowell. Mc Dowell is a compelling, thought-provoking narrative that mediates on the philosophy of defeat, success, truth, misery, self-discovery, and identity.
Coles action-packed narrative explores what occurs after the attaining of the American Dream. His characterization of a caring yet distant father and husband is epitomized in his eponymous protagonist Hiram McDowell a successful, ambitious, well-rounded surgeon who becomes the President of the International College of Surgeons in Denver among other accolades.
The narrative begins in the Himalayas of Nepal in 1981 with Hiram Mc Dowell and Eric Woolf climbing the steep mountains in the midst of a snowstorm. This storm foreshadows a coming storm that Hiram would face in his career and then his life that would leave him occasionally exposed to the elements.
The book is divided into two parts. In the first part of the book, the narrator delves into the dreariness and drama of routine parenthood and marriage. Hiram is a generous provider for both his adult children and stepchildren but frequently travels for work purposes. In the second part of the book, the protagonist journeys through several cities. In each city, he finds solace in the company of a woman, as he must deliberately shun the limelight and the upper-class society of his former fraternity. During this tumultuous period, he moves beyond his bitterness, and he becomes a genuinely likable, dependable and highly adaptable individual.
Coles writing is so masterful that it keeps the reader engrossed from start to finish. The only thing, I disliked in this narrative was the limited knowledge shared about Hiram's first two wives and his relationship with them. I was able to identify only a few minor errors that in no way detracted from the comprehension of this gripping narrative. This book earns a 4 out of 4 stars rating, as it is a page-turner that tugs at the heartstring of the reader. The sustained suspense keeps the reader wondering whether Hiram’s new identity will be unmasked or whether his relentless pursuers will catch him on the run.
Paradoxically, the reader exhales with Hiriam and savors the new found beauty he discovers in making and listening to music, listening to singing, viewing paintings and experiencing the joys of companionship. Coles has been successful in creating a memorable and emotionally awakening narrative that is recommended for persons seventeen and over only due to the use of adult language.
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