4 out of 4 stars
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William H. Coles' McDowell is a novel about Hiram McDowell, a famous surgeon who was at the very top of his career when everything took a sudden downturn changing his life forever. McDowell wasn't the kind of character a reader can easily like. He is proud, selfish and insensitive. He does not keep his promises. He rarely shows concern for other people's feelings.
At the start of the book, it was shown that he had no true friends. He used even those who seem closest to him. It was also shown how he treated his wife. Hiram was not the kind of man any woman would ever want to be her husband.
As the story develops, we see how he succeeds despite his bad attitude towards people. He was recognized by the International College of Surgeons. He was even appointed to be the President's Secretary of Health.
When it seems as though he could achieve everything, Hiram made a decision that would become pivotal in determining his fate. From that point on, Hiram had to endure the judgment of other people. He would lose almost everything he deemed important in his life. Bereft of money, power and freedom, he would be forced to take a look at his life and the decisions he made so far.
This is where the book takes an interesting turn. Instead of wanting to see Hiram suffer for all his mistakes, I wanted to see how he could find redemption. Instead of judging him for the past, I wanted to know if such a man could ever have a different future.
The second part of the book thus takes the reader on a journey with Hiram as he tries to find another life. We see him meeting other characters that helped him discover the kind of man he was and the kind of person he could be.
I really enjoyed reading about the different people Hiram meets on his journey. They are unique but believable. They have a different way of speaking and a different way of looking at things. Each has helped Hiram reflect deeper into his own life. In a way that is neither forced nor preachy, these characters imparted their own wisdom to Hiram.
This is the kind of book that lets the reader think and judge for himself. I guess that's what I liked best about the book. Readers become real participants in tackling sensitive issues. They are not forced to believe a certain philosophy just because they were told to do so.
I never thought I would enjoy this book as much as I did! Although Hiram was first depicted as an unlikeable man, he was later on shown to have positive human qualities. The book is a testament to the complexity of a person. It is also a testament to the influence one human life can make on other people's lives.
Having said so, I think this book would cater to readers who crave to understand more about topics like morality and human nature. It is possible to also attract religious people. The only thing that I saw lacking here is the absence of a religious character who can speak about morality without being the stereotype judgmental or self-righteous kind.
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars because of its excellence in many areas. This includes good characterization and a superb plot. The book also appears to be professionally edited.
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