4 out of 4 stars
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McDowell by William H. Coles is a fast-paced novel that showcases the potential for human transformation. The main character, Hiram McDowell, is a highly skilled surgeon and experienced hiker. He has also established a charity that allowed him to build a hospital in Nepal. He is on his third marriage, has children from a previous marriage, and by all outward appearances, seems very successful. With a closer look into his personal endeavours, however, it is clear that he is on the edge of demise, and soon finds himself at the mercy of the law. From here, Hiram embarks upon a new adventure, both of the body and the soul, only to find that his view of the world may not be as accurate as he once thought it was.
Immediately, I disliked Hiram. His character is self-centred; a man who uses and manipulates those around him to get what he wants. He is not concerned with the consequences of his actions for other people, which paints him as cold, calculating and egotistical. In the beginning, one small glimpse of warmth from Hiram is shown in his relationship with his son. However, as time goes on, Hiram is able to get more in-touch with his human nature, which softens him significantly. The ability of Coles to create such a repulsive character and then convince the reader to sympathize with him is a true testament to his skill as a writer.
This book was a very satisfying read for me, because the details and story development are written very precisely, with little to no "fluff" or unnecessary information. I was able to turn the pages quickly and without confusion as to what was going on. Although I was never confused, I also never knew what was going to happen next, and thoroughly enjoyed the unpredictability of the plot.
I think that the author accurately depicted the difficult and often tumultuous road of self-exploration. In real life, we often get caught up in what we think success should look like, and forget to keep our feet on the ground. I am certain that anyone who reads this book will know someone who shares characteristics with McDowell, and it may even be themselves. By leading the reader on a journey of self-reflection with his main character, Coles shows the reader that we should pay attention to the roadblocks we face in our own lives, because an unexpected change of direction may be exactly what we need.
This book seems to have been professionally edited, although there were a few very minor errors. Ultimately, I give McDowell a 4 out of 4 stars, and would recommend it to anyone who likes books with suspense, plot twists, in-depth character development and elements of soul-searching.
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