The Surgeon's Wife

Fiction - Literary
212 Pages
Reviewed on 06/10/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

A novel that will surprise you by the way author William H. Coles brings depth to his characters, The Surgeon's Wife is set in New Orleans and centers on the friendship between two brilliant doctors. Clayton Otherson is Mike Boudreaux’s professor and mentor during training, renowned in the medical field for his bold innovations and unmatched results, and is Mike’s senior partner for the last twelve years. But while performing a critical procedure, Otherson flounders in indecision, unable to make decisions to save his patient’s life. An incident report is filed against him that labels him impaired. He wants Mike to bury it, for Mike has the authority to call the shots. But the committee operates under a strong moral imperative when it comes to patient safety. Clayton’s difficulty in admitting his error takes a serious toll on his profession and personal life, and his wife Catherine has fallen in love with Mike, who is always there to lend a shoulder to lean on. Mike feels that it is not right to go against his mentor, but the feeling he has been denying burns with intensity.

What transpires is a literary medical and domestic drama that is edgy and compelling, as Clayton’s deterioration is further aggravated by the discovery that his protégé is having an illicit affair with his wife. It consumes him with thoughts of revenge. Coles, who has authored a book on how to write fiction, proves that he practices what he preaches through his keen sense of plot and timing. He knows how to hook your attention from the first page when he brings you inside the operating room to witness the start of Clayton’s fall from grace. Coles devotes enough time to establish character motivation in order for you to have a deeper understanding of the choices they make along the way. The Surgeon’s Wife is a triumphant work of fiction that addresses ethical issues in the medical profession. Include it in your reading list and recommend it to your friends. It makes for an interesting group discussion.

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.

Janelle Alex, Ph.D.

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.

Ruffina Oserio

On a personal note, The Surgeon's Wife is the third book I am reading from William H. Coles within a week, and after I complete each book, I feel like reading more from him. His stories are told in a voice that is confident, clear, and authoritative, and he knows how to explore the deep layers of human emotion. The Surgeon's Wife, with Coles’ unique signature, features themes of romance, passion, and betrayal and features characters with a solid medical background.

Clayton Otherson is a senior surgeon who has earned the respect of the industry over the years, a man distinguished by his skills. But he makes a life-threatening error in surgery, one that damages the reputation of one of the best hospitals in New Orleans. Now, Mike Boudreaux, the man mentored by Otherson and also his friend, must discipline him. While Mike wants to reduce sanctions and make things easier for Otherson, the committee imposes restrictions. Otherson doesn’t take it well and nurtures thoughts of vengeance. But the experience affects him very negatively to the point that his marriage starts suffering. Catherine, his wife, turns to his best friend and what follows is a romantic relationship between Mike and Catherine. Can Otherson handle it and for how long can they keep the relationship secret?

I loved the conflict and how a major disagreement between two close friends eventually leads to the greatest betrayal. This novel explores how stress and the poor manner of handling a crisis can escalate to very serious and more complex issues. When readers get to know Otherson, they won’t immediately like him. He is a man who doesn’t want to admit his errors or to face a problem. But as the narrative moves forward, they begin to gain sympathy for him and wonder why he must go through the pain he is experiencing. The conflict reaches a point of climax when his wife finally chooses his friend, the very person he had hoped can help in his situation. The narrative is skillfully done and the author explores the consequences of illicit relationships, the dangers of quick and emotional decisions, with Catherine losing respect from her peers and family. William H. Coles keeps one reading until the very last page.

Rabia Tanveer

The Surgeon's Wife by William H. Coles is the story of Mike Boudreaux, Chief of Service at a hospital in New Orleans, who is at a standstill. His teacher, his mentor, and his good friend, Clayton Otherson, has made life-threatening mistakes during surgery and now it is Mike’s job to discipline him. However, Mike is having a hard time doing his job. On the one hand, he has his duty and on the other, he has to think about his friend who made him who he is today. To make matters worse, he falls in love with Clayton’s wife Catherine, who also falls for Mike. Together they are happy, but their community and Clayton don’t like their happiness. It is now up to Mike to find a way to hold on to his life, his success, and Catherine while also doing his job.

The Surgeon's Wife by William H. Coles is the story of a man’s battle with his sense of responsibility, his ethical duty, and his heart. This book was definitely a change of theme and genre for me. Usually, I read novels with younger protagonists, but this was a good change. The older, more mature characters started in a half or almost fully developed stage, but they still grew. I enjoyed reading about a different age group and understanding what goes on in their minds. This was a different setting for me, but I enjoyed it very much. I loved Mike’s development. From being a great doctor and a hesitant Chief, he grew to become a leader. Catherine had my sympathies from the very beginning, but I loved how she grew taller and prouder of her choices. I really enjoyed this book.

Divine Zape

Clayton Otherson has done a lot for his department, being one of the best surgeons. His friend and the man he mentored and now his boss, Mike Boudreaux can attest to that. But Clayton discovers that a small mistake is about to ruin a reputation built over the years. Mike knows he must make a decision and while he wants to lessen the sanctions imposed on Clayton, these cause Clayton to become bitter. He can’t admit that he is wrong and sees no reason why restrictions should be placed on him. His wife begins to feel the effects of the decision on his life and marriage. Catherine approaches Mike for advice and the attraction between the two grows stronger. An affair develops and Clayton becomes even more embittered and bent on revenge. New Orleans society and her family lose respect for Catherine. What happens next is a drama that gets the reader emotionally engaged.

The Surgeon's Wife by William H. Coles is a riveting medical and family drama mixed with a tale of illicit romance. The story is filled with realism and humanity, a novel with a message that resonates strongly with readers. William H. Coles is an author that explores one of the themes I hardly find in many works — how every action we take has consequences on our lives. The author plunges the reader into a medical environment that feels so real and infuses the narrative with humanity. The characters are real, and it is interesting to follow the drama, the witty dialogues, and how they propel the plot forward. The characters are compelling, the writing atmospheric, and the entire narrative is psychologically and emotionally exciting.

Lesley Jones

In The Surgeon's Wife by William H. Coles, when a renowned professor and surgeon, Clayton Otherson, begins to make critical mistakes in his work with obese patients, he is threatened with misconduct. Chair of the New Orleans hospital committee and fellow surgeon Mike Boudreaux faces a tough moral decision. Does he protect the patient's safety and take action against his mentor or procrastinate and hope Clayton's incompetence improves with further training. When Clayton rejects any advice and help, a further operation places a young girl's life in danger, and her father seeks revenge. Mike now realizes that he has an obligation not only to his patients but to his moral values to ensure Clayton ceases practising. This causes serious complications to their friendship and exposes the rift within Clayton's marriage to his much younger wife, Catherine. Catherine feels increasingly isolated and turns to Mike for emotional support, leading to an affair that neither of them planned. When Clayton discovers the betrayal, his sense of right and wrong is forgotten; now he wants retribution from everyone who, in his mind, has ruined his life.

I loved the interesting plot and beautifully created characters. Even the minor characters such as Helen were relatable. The story moved forward at a great pace and I thought the conflict between Clayton and Catherine especially riveting. There were many sub-plots which I easily followed and they all played an important role in the moral of this novel. I thought the relationship between Catherine and her mother was especially poignant. Each of the main characters seemed to be facing a moral decision and the development of the consequences of those decisions was played out perfectly, causing great tension. The whole story is a brilliant example of the complexities of human nature and the family dynamic when love, hate, and rejection come into play. The ending is a real cliffhanger and totally unexpected.

Romuald Dzemo

The Surgeon's Wife by William H. Coles is a thriller that combines medical themes with betrayal to deliver an exceptional story for readers. Clayton Otherson is an experienced senior surgeon whose work has been greatly admired — at least, his friend and the man he mentored, Mike Boudreaux, thinks so. But when he makes a life-threatening mistake in surgery, Mike, his chief of surgery, thinks he needs to discipline Clayton. But given their professional relationship, he doesn’t want to be too hard on a man from whom he’s learned a lot. Clayton doesn’t accept having done anything wrong and this complicates issues. The committee decides to impose restrictions on him and he takes it very negatively. The problem begins when Clayton’s refusal to admit his mistakes takes a toll on his marriage. His wife, Catherine, decides to confide in Mike, and a romance eventually develops between the two. Clayton sets his mind on revenge, and while the affair continues Catherine loses credibility and the support of family and friends. Will Clayton get his revenge and is there any redemption for Catherine?

William H. Coles had me guessing from the very start of the narrative, and his storytelling craft is stellar, filled with compelling and interesting dialogues that felt just right. One never feels like the writing is forced and the drama makes for an enjoyable reading experience. Themes of professional malpractice, romance, family, and friendship are deftly handled, and the author creates relationships between characters that play a vital part in the development of the conflict. The characters are sophisticated and memorable and it is interesting how each of their choices leads to a proportionate consequence. The Surgeon's Wife is a delight for fans of thrillers and novels with strong plot points, huge conflict, and exceptional characters.

Grace Masso

The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles is a literary fiction novel that presents a conflict between two strong characters and medical professionals. Clayton Otherson is a senior influential and respectable surgeon. Or he once was. But he is growing old and this leads to him making mistakes that can have devastating effects on patients. The sad thing is that he refuses to admit that he is losing the skill because of age. Mike Boudreaux is Clayton’s junior, the head of the operating room. Mike was also trained by Clayton, and now Mike must discipline him. But Clayton doesn’t admit to being impaired. He is resentful, expecting Mike to find a way to make complaints against him go away. Things get worse when Mike falls in love with Catherine, Clayton’s wife. The relationship between Mike and Catherine attracts Clayton’s jealousy and anger. Can Clayton reclaim his honor and get back his wife or will he lose everything to Mike Boudreaux? The consequences are dire.

William H. Coles is a good storyteller who writes characters that are real and believable. From the key characters — Clayton and Mike — to Catherine and her daughter, Mellissa, to the supporting cast of characters, the author ensures that he explores the humanity of the characters in a skillful manner. The situations into which the author puts the characters are realistic and this makes them relatable. While readers will feel pity for Clayton’s situation, his stubbornness makes them feel contempt for his attitude. The author writes in beautiful prose and I loved how the characters evolve through the story. The conflict between Clayton and Mike begins as something mild, but it complicates through each page, thanks to Clayton’s behavior and the attraction his wife eventually develops for Mike. The story is expertly plotted with twists that I never saw coming. The Surgeon’s Wife is a story with a sophisticated tragic hero; it is as entertaining as it is engaging.

Rolanda Lyles

William H. Coles’ The Surgeon’s Wife is a story set in New Orleans about Dr. Mike Boudreaux and his mentor, Dr. Clayton Otherson. The story opens with Mike in surgery and called to assist Otherson because his surgery is going awry. The patient is saved, but Otherson’s mishap opens the door for complaints and eventually a malpractice claim against him for his elective surgeries. Dr. Mike Boudreaux is busy trying to shield his aging friend and mentor from the accusations and retaliation. Later, during the story, Mike falls for Otherson’s wife, Catherine. A relationship develops and she gets a divorce from her husband. Dr. Otherson becomes revengeful and blames his wife and former mentee for his hardships and consequences. His hate becomes all-consuming and eventually is quenched in an unfortunate way.

William H. Coles’ The Surgeon’s Wife is an intensely written story of many facets. This story is a tale of the complexities that lie between honoring your morals and having a sense of loyalty to a colleague. This story can serve as a warning sign to anyone that achieves success to remain humble and not exhibit arrogance, pride, and revenge. Mr. Otherson becomes violent and consumed with hate and rage for his wife and former friend, because of their relationship. He also blamed them for his malpractice. Eventually, he essentially goes crazy stalking his wife and takes his anger out on others. Coles’ writing of Mr. Otherson’s character was sometimes chilling, exciting, and frightening. The Surgeon’s Wife depicts Catherine’s role as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a big name in society, and a woman trying to protect and defend herself. William H. Coles' The Surgeon's Wife is full of emotional ups and downs, and I enjoyed going along for the ride.