The Spirit of Want

Fiction - Literary
298 Pages
Reviewed on 06/11/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tracy Young for Readers' Favorite

The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles tells the story of the MacMeil family and how they affect the people they meet. A.J. is a patriarch and gifted surgeon, his wife Agnes is his faithful companion and they have two daughters. Lucy is a Puerto Rican beauty who was adopted before they had their other daughter, Elizabeth. Luke Osbourne works for A.J. and has met the family briefly but finds himself accepting a lift from Lucy under difficult circumstances. Luke finds himself embroiled in the MacMeil family ethos and the drama that ensues. Lucy finds herself drawn to a client, an enigmatic TV evangelist, who is facing charges of underage sex with a young girl, and forgets the commitments she has made to Luke and her family. Traveling to Africa, she abandons everything to be with Hower Bain, her former client, and only escapes when illness forces her to leave. Lucy returns to the US and is forced to work as an aide to a Congresswoman who is incompetent and unfit for the position she seeks. Will she find happiness with Bain as he returns to the US or will it all end in tears?

This is a great read. The MacMeil family is a fascinating mix of characters that will keep you guessing to the last page. This story runs the full gamut of human emotions and will have you burning the midnight oil as you read just one more chapter. Adoption and parenthood, marriage and sibling relationships are all examined and uncovered; raw human emotion at its very best. Lucy is a fascinating character who will take you on a journey as you decide if you love her or hate her, but one thing is sure, you will never forget her. The Spirit of Want is an amazing saga and William H. Coles is an amazing storyteller.

Viga Boland

The spirit of want is what drives most of the primary characters in this literary fiction novel by William H. Coles. The beautiful, but deeply conflicted lawyer, Lucy, isn’t sure what she wants. But after she marries Luke, a doctor who wants Lucy from the day he meets her, she knows Luke isn’t what she wants. Lucy’s gentle and loving half-sister, Elizabeth, wants a husband and children. The girls’ mother, Agnes, wants a grandchild; their father, a top surgeon, wants money and status. And then there’s the charismatic preacher, Hower, whom Lucy is hired to defend in a rape case, who ends up bedding her to get what he wants: to escape imprisonment and ultimately regain his power and hold over his devoted followers. When Lucy succumbs to Hower’s power, all hell breaks loose in both her professional and personal life. She abandons Luke, her child, and her family, believing Hower will satisfy the spirit of want that drives her, only to have her wants, like her, die unfulfilled.

As in most of William H. Coles' novels and short stories, the focus is always on the flaws and fragilities that make the mighty fall. This was the case with surgeons McDowell and Otherson in two of Coles’ other novels, and such is the case with Lucy in The Spirit of Want. Coles enjoys exploring the psyches and personality traits of those driven to succeed who reach the top. But, as is often said, once you reach the top, there’s only one way to go. So Coles fires on, showing readers how pride can destroy, and reminding us there is much to learn from others on that downhill slide. One of the difficulties readers encounter in reading The Spirit of Want and other novels by Coles is his tendency to address many different social, religious and political issues while telling the story. He does this by introducing lots of characters and situations as the story develops. While each of these situations and the accompanying exchange of ideas between the characters is interesting, and prompts readers to think about more than just the plot of the book, some readers may find these digressions distracting. Thankfully, since Coles’ primary writing device is dialogue, rather than narration, we are not distracted for too long before the plot leaps forward again.

In The Spirit of Want, one of the transitions in situations for which the reader was quite unprepared was Lucy, the lawyer, becoming sexually and romantically involved with Hower. In one chapter, after visiting with him to probe deeper into the rape allegations, she comes away disliking him with such intensity she hopes she never has to meet with him again. The next time the reader hears about Lucy and Hower, she has been disbarred for conduct unbefitting her professional role as a defence lawyer…and the reader had no idea they had even met again under any circumstances. That is enough to make readers flip back through the pages, wondering if they’d missed a chapter! One other element that makes The Spirit of Want, in fact all of Coles’ novels, interesting is what he reveals about what goes on behind the scenes in the medical profession. Knowing that Coles is himself a retired doctor, there’s no reason to believe that what he presents is merely creative fiction. It’s eye-opening and often not very nice at all. As in all the works of William H. Coles, there is much to learn about many things in The Spirit of Want.

Romuald Dzemo

A character-driven story, The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles explores the thrills and perils of desire, following one woman’s quest for pleasure and the consequences of her choices. Lucy is a successful defense lawyer, who is married to Luke Osbourne, a surgeon practicing under her father. When Lucy takes on the defense of a TV evangelist accused of sexually assaulting a girl, she isn’t aware it will be a perilous path for her and her marriage. She falls in love with the evangelist who loses the case and flees to Africa while awaiting the appeal. She leaves everything behind, including family and work, and follows the evangelist to Africa, but what she discovers is enough to make her question everything she thought she knew about this man of God. She runs back home in shame, but the damage has already been done. Read on to discover what other choices she makes in desperation. Can she really find redemption and regain her reputation? But where and how?

I enjoyed this story a lot and loved the way the author handled the theme of longing, crime and investigation, and family. The characters are awesome and it is easy to follow them throughout the story. Lucy caught my attention from the very start. She came across at first as flirtatious and flippant, someone who may not take herself seriously, and this aspect of her personality gets to be fully developed throughout the story. It was surprising for me to note that she could fall so low, in spite of her apparent intelligence, background, and education. The writing is superb and it flows with unhindered fluidity. I enjoyed the prose as much as I enjoyed the compelling plot with the powerful cast of characters. William H. Coles’ The Spirit of Want explores the anatomy of desire in a brilliant manner; it is entertaining in an insane kind of way.

Arya Fomonyuy

The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles is a powerful story that is emotionally charged and intense, a tale with psychological depth and emotional insight. When Lucy MacMeil accepts the sleazy TV evangelist accused of rape as a client, she couldn’t imagine that this case would rock her entire world, including her profession and marriage. While working the case, the defense lawyer falls for the evangelist, but he loses the case and runs away to Africa. Unable to live without him, Lucy follows the man, abandoning her husband and family, but she is confronted with dreadful truths about the so-called man of God that will test everything she knew about him. Shaken, she packs her stuff and returns home to her husband and family. But things aren’t going to be the same for her anymore. She has to face shame, and the loss of her job and reputation. Read on to see how far desire can drive the human heart.

Here is a book that many readers will relate to, a story that plays out very often in real life. Reverend Bain is a character I don’t want to meet in real life; he seems to exude a deep-seated duplicity and a charm that overrides it, especially to gullible women. I loved him as a character and the way he is developed throughout the story. Lucy is another compelling character and one could say she is a case the author uses to explore the depth of human desire. William H. Coles creates a powerful plot, punctuated with intense and emotionally charged episodes. The writing leaps off the pages with elegance and the dialogues are intelligent, natural, and utterly entertaining. The Spirit of Want was an exciting read for me, another brilliant and realistic story from a gifted writer.

Rabia Tanveer

The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles is the story of a woman who is successful yet, when a man comes into her life, she loses it all. This is the story of Lucy MacMeil, the daughter of a successful doctor and the wife of an equally successful surgeon. Lucy is a defense lawyer by profession and she really enjoys her job. However, her life is changed completely and for the worse when she takes up the case of a TV evangelist who is accused of raping a girl. When she takes up his case, she had no idea that she would fall in love with this man.

She tries her best at saving him, but the case against him is too strong and he loses. Seeing that he has no way out, the evangelist runs away to Africa and Lucy leaves everything behind, including her husband and a very young infant, and goes after him. She left everything for him, but when Lucy reaches him, he tells her to go back. Shocked, dismayed and terrified, Lucy has no idea what she will do. Can she go back and try to salvage her marriage? Or will she stay back in Africa and hope that the man she loves will accept her?

This novel was hard to read, not because it was written badly, but because of how real it felt. Lucy’s emotions were raw and real and you could feel them in your heart and in your soul. William H. Coles described emotions so well and that gave depth to the characters. Sometimes this novel was so heart wrenching that I had to stop for a few moments. The Spirit of Want is definitely a novel I really appreciated because it made my inner literature lover very happy! Fantastic, simply fantastic! I am lost for words.

K.C. Finn

The Spirit of Want is a work of literary dramatic fiction penned by author William H. Coles. This sweeping work of life, love, passion, money, deceit, and romance focuses primarily on the life of Lucy MacMeil, a defense lawyer who seems at first to have it all. When she marries surgeon Luke Osborne, the busy couple have a daughter and begin their life together, but Lucy’s head is turned by a charismatic evangelist whom she is defending on abuse charges. Lucy abandons her whole life just to be with the Reverend, and it’s then that secrets and truths unravel her new passionate fantasy life.

Want is a great theme for fiction, and this work achieves a realistic sense of what untamed want and greed can do when a person is always looking for the grass to be greener on the other side. The prose is superbly crafted to construct the atmosphere of the different people Lucy encounters in her life, and the narration gives little away about the truth of each one until it’s too late. This makes for a compelling page-turner that has you physically reacting to the decisions made, and though you may not like Lucy as a central figure, she is certainly realistically formed and leaping off the page. Author William H. Coles has crafted an intelligent read on many levels that has a lot to say about human nature, the power of money, forgiveness and family ties, making The Spirit of Want an all-round enjoyable dramatic novel.

Christian Sia

The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles is a mix of romance and general thriller with the primary theme of family and betrayal. Lucy MacMeil is hired as the defense lawyer for TV evangelist Reverend Bain, a charismatic man, little knowing that she is headed towards doom. She falls in love with the evangelist while defending him. After losing the case, the evangelist flees to Africa while awaiting an appeal. Unable to live without him, Lucy abandons her husband, surgeon Luke Osbourne, her child, and entire family and follows Bain to Africa. It is not long before she discovers she has been fooled. Evangelist Bain isn't the man she believes him to be. She has to run back home, but what awaits her isn't a welcome. Follow her as she is shunned by friends and family and seeks to rebuild her life.

William H. Coles is an expert in building drama and scenes that are focused and emotionally charged. The courtroom drama is intense with exchanges that are intelligently composed and cross-examinations that are witty and lively. The author's gift for character and thematic development is exemplified in this narrative. The story has a powerful premise --- a married and respectable woman falling in love with her client is a complex issue. When the illicit romance begins, the reader watches its evolution, expecting that the protagonist will eventually discover her error and make a turnaround, but things escalate quickly into a serious conflict. The Spirit of Want is an engaging story with rock-solid characters. The writing is bold, balanced, and focused, and the characters are real.

Ruffina Oserio

The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles is a spellbinding novel that explores legal themes, romance, family, and one woman's unconventional pursuit of happiness. Lucy MacMeil is a defense attorney, happily married to her father's subordinate, surgeon Luke Osbourne. But when she takes up the case in defense of a charismatic and magnetic TV evangelist accused of sexually abusing a girl, everything changes. She falls in love with her client and when the evangelist loses the case, he flees to Africa, awaiting an appeal. Lucy abandons her family, her husband, and her little baby and follows the evangelist. But upon meeting him again, she discovers the man isn't the person she believed him to be. Coming back home doesn't put her back in the good graces of her family, so she takes a job that ends badly. Can she find a foothold and rebuild her life again.

This is a dramatic story that reflects the reality many couples experience. Lucy is a typical woman who loses her ability to think her choices through, focused on her passionate love for a man who betrays her. This is an engrossing tale with many twists. The characters are multidimensional and very complex, especially the protagonist and the TV evangelist. The author shows a great understanding of con men who hide their evil behind the veil of religion to take advantage of others. The Spirit of Want is told in a captivating voice, emotionally charged, with strong hints of a psychological thriller. William H. Coles makes it real.

Divine Zape

In The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles, a TV evangelist and leader of a church needs the best defense lawyer to get him off a charge of sexually abusing a girl. Lucy MacMeil gets the job. As one of the top lawyers for her firm and a woman, she is the best lawyer to defend the evangelist’s innocence. Then they lose the case and Bain escapes to Africa while waiting for an appeal. But Lucy has already fallen in love with the charismatic and handsome man of God during the trial and she abandons Luke Osbourne, her husband, a surgeon, her family, and friends, and follows her lover to Africa. But is Bain who he claims to be? The revelations are shocking and when she decides to come back home, she discovers no one wants her. She moves to California and accepts a job as advisor to a woman running for Congress, but the job ends badly with Lucy getting fired after a failed campaign. Can Lucy rebuild her life and win back the trust of her family and the husband she abandoned in search of romance?

William H. Coles’ work is filled with drama and from the witty and exceptional conversations between the characters, and the courtroom drama, the reader gets a wonderful array of situations that are exciting and filled with entertainment. The characters are deftly handled and written with emotional and psychological depth. We follow a woman who makes emotional choices that cost her the respect of her family and everyone she holds dear. Bain is a sleazy character who reflects the hypocrisy seen in many contemporary churchmen. While The Spirit of Want is dramatically engaging and a fine literary piece, it castigates the hypocrisy of modern evangelists who are more concerned about their personal pleasure and the wealth they build than spreading the word of God. Themes of family, marriage, hypocrisy, sexual abuse and the quest for personal fulfillment are skillfully developed throughout the story. One of the best novels I have read with family drama and legal underpinnings.