The Surgeon's Wife

The Surgeon's Wife


Fiction - Literary
212 Pages
Reviewed on 06/11/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Janelle Alex, Ph.D. for Readers' Favorite

A refreshing read, The Surgeon's Wife takes readers on a fictional journey that will keep them intrigued from the beginning. William H. Coles' dramatic tale is based around the lives of two prominent surgeons and one woman. The issues that arise in The Surgeon's Wife start off with one of the main characters, Clayton Otherson, making a major mistake during surgery. His former student and the current chair of the OR committee, Mike Boudreaux, tries to protect his mentor, but ethically and professionally he knows he must protect the patients. Eventually, a love triangle comes into play and Mike and Catherine Otherson, Clayton's wife, become lovers. With numerous challenges facing both the Othersons and Mike, The Surgeon's Wife will keep readers on tenterhooks from start to finish.

For the most part, William H. Coles' story progresses at a cadence that feels smooth and interesting. The romantic relationship between Mike and Catherine jumps ahead pretty quickly - but not until nearly halfway through the book - and with little anticipation of it earlier in the plot. But, overall, The Surgeon's Wife is so intriguing that this minor issue remains just that - a minor issue. Coles makes the story more realistic by allowing some patients to actually die even after having given readers a chance to like them. He also displays examples of doctors trying to stick together and protect one of their own, even at the risk of patients' lives. Sexism is still yet another aspect fluidly blended into The Surgeon's Wife, from how doctors' wives are often treated to how female surgeons are treated. William H. Coles' The Surgeon's Wife is filled with an in-depth plot, powerful characters, and a lot of fascinating different topics that could be proposed for discussion via a book club or with friends. The Surgeon's Wife is a great read and one I recommend.

Jane Finch

The Surgeon’s Wife by William H Coles delves into the life of elite and respected surgeons at a well-respected hospital in New Orleans. Mike Boudreaux is the chief of surgery and dedicated to his work, often to the detriment of his social life. Mike is put in a difficult position when another prominent surgeon, Clayton Otherson, comes under scrutiny for mistakes during surgery. Mike is conflicted by loyalty to Clayton and his desire to do what is right. He also harbours concerns about Clayton’s speciality of treating obese patients, when Mike feels other treatments and approaches are being ignored. Complications arise when Mike finds himself falling in love with Clayton’s neglected wife, Catherine.

The author, William H Coles, would appear to have a clear knowledge and understanding of the procedures and internal conflicts of a high-end hospital, which makes the story authentic and gives it credibility. The story starts well with fast-paced and tense action, although it loses its impetus somewhat and continues at a more sedate pace. The author examines the issues behind the actions of the main protagonists well, and the characters are solidly developed and believable, in particular the attitudes of some of the surgeons who tend to have a superior and uncompromising view, not least of which is Clayton Otherson. The introduction of the romance with Clayton’s wife was an unexpected twist. The story holds interest, but could benefit from more intrigue and a few twists and turns to keep the reader alert. Otherwise, a pleasant read.

Deborah Lloyd

The charming city of New Orleans as well as a varied cast of interesting characters are the main components of this intriguing novel. Mike Boudreaux has been the Chief of Surgery for four years, and he is faced with the challenging task of dealing with his favored professor and mentor, Clayton Otherson. Dr. Otherson is performing many unnecessary and dangerous surgeries for obese people, and his declining abilities have resulted in physical damage in several cases. How the hospital staff should deal with this results in conflict. Mike’s relationship with Rosemary Dayside has ended, and a physical attraction to Clayton’s wife, Catherine, has blossomed. Clayton and Catherine’s daughter also become entangled in her parents’ troubled marriage, and in her mother’s new relationship. In The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles, the professional and personal lives of Mike and Clayton collide, and how it will end remains a mystery until the last chapter.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this story is the hierarchy that exists in surgical departments in large teaching hospitals. Additionally, the societal structure within the wealthier classes of New Orleans is also revealed, within the context of a compelling story. Author William H. Coles has written an engaging novel, encompassing several main themes. Mr. Coles’ writing style is concise and easy to follow. The drawings that appear on the cover and at the beginning of each section are as intriguing as the plot. Not only do they capture the essence of the book, they also capture the essence of New Orleans. This novel is certainly an enjoyable read!

Ann Neville

The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles follows Clayton Otherson, a senior surgeon, as he makes life-threatening mistakes during Bariatric surgery in a New Orleans’ hospital. Mike Boudreaux, the chief of surgery, must discipline Otherson, his partner, colleague, mentor and friend. Even though Mike knows he must take action, he feels conflicted because he owes his education and his career success to Otherson. But when a patient dies from post-operative complications, there is no option but suspension. Otherson turns angry and vindictive, especially when his wife, Catherine, turns to Mike for help and support. Otherson is consumed with revenge and threatens violence. The consequences of the psychological and emotional effects on Catherine and Otherson’s marriage, on their daughter, Mellissa, and on Mike are dramatic and disastrous.

I found The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles an interesting and fascinating read on several levels. Coles skilfully articulates the moral dilemma faced by doctors regarding Bariatric surgery (gastric bypass surgery) and its consequences for patients. The issue of financial gain over patient safety is also well presented, along with the conflict between personal values and corporate economic survival. The psychological and emotional journeys of all the main characters, Otherson, his wife and daughter, and Mike, are intriguing and compelling, while the dramatic ending is completely shocking and, in one aspect, unexpected. Fortunately, the denouement offers an inkling of hope for the future. If a reader is looking for drama in a surgical setting, I recommend this well-written book, The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles.

Viga Boland

In William H. Coles' novel, The Surgeon’s Wife, Catherine is the lovely but neglected and unappreciated wife of the lauded Dr. Otherson. When Dr. Otherson, a specialist in bariatric surgery, comes under fire for both his procedural competence, and his true motivation for performing surgery on patients only mildly obese, his world and his marriage to Catherine start to fall apart. Unfortunately for her, she finds solace and love in the arms of Michael, once Otherson’s student, but now his superior. What follows for Catherine and her daughter Melissa is heartache, chaos and, ultimately, violence, while Michael battles with his loyalty to his mentor, his duty to those patients who have put their trust in Otherson’s skills, and his love for Catherine.

Just as he did in his more recent novel, McDowell, William H. Coles enjoys, as did Shakespeare, exploring and exploiting the concept of the “tragic flaw”, the one characteristic that causes a hero to come undone. And Coles does this so well. It’s fascinating to watch how Dr. Otherson, at the top of his field when the story opens, hits bottom by the time the story closes, thanks to his one, maybe even several, tragic flaws. One of the beauties of reading books or short stories by William H. Coles is his remarkable ability to reveal characters through dialogue. He relies very little on any other of the usual devices writers use. The result of his approach is a sense of fulfillment in readers: they feel this author knows they are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions about the people in his story. Ultimately, this consistent and superb use of dialogue makes The Surgeon’s Wife a quick, engrossing and satisfying read. Enjoy.