4 out of 4 stars
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Hiram McDowell is an important man in McDowell by William H. Cole. He’s a well-known surgeon, philanthropist, musician, and avid climber. He keeps reaching new heights on mountains and in his career, and he tries to make sure no one forgets his greatness. Everyone is out to get him, and he feels it isn’t his fault they have a problem with him.
McDowell is about fictional character, Hiram McDowell, and his journey of self-discovery. The stories of Hiram and his family are riveting. Various scandals, difficulties, and deaths changed the characters personalities. There are events in the book that were akin to watching a train wreck: you know you should look away, but you can’t keep yourself from staring in morbid fascination. It was easy to become wrapped up in the story.
One of my only problems with the story was the actions of Hiram’s lesbian daughter, Sophia, and her one-time girlfriend, June. June ends up leaving Sophia for a man, and Sophia ends up becoming enamored with a man with whom it seems she will end up dating. While I understand that sexuality is complex and varied, their lesbianism was treated as a placeholder until they were able to put men into their lives. It might be unfair to judge William H. Cole’s poetic license, but I did not see the necessity in changing Sophia’s sexual preference.
I rate McDowell by William H. Cole at 4 out of 4 stars. I loved reading the book and learning about the lives of the characters. There were times that Hiram really shocked me, especially when he was encouraging his son Billie to pursue a sexual relationship with Billie’s step-sister. I thought Hiram would never understand that he was the cause of all the difficulties in his life. It was interesting to watch him grow as a person. He never made amends for what he did in the past, but he strove to move forward.
The book was engaging, and the characters were complex. At times, Hiram was not a likeable character. The better Hiram’s life became, the worse he treated those around him. He did not see flaws or take responsibility for his own actions. William H. Cole tries to redeem Hiram by showing his growth after he’s experienced great tragedy and loss. I don’t feel that Hiram ever became a good man, but he was no longer the vile human he had been. This book would be enjoyed by people who like social voyeurism and stories of self-discovery.
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