Jewish characters in doctors’ novel are peripheral
The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles, AuthorHouse, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4567-6255-1, 201 pages, cover price not listed.
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO — There are a handful of Jewish characters in this novel about two surgeons who struggle over the love of a woman and the ethics of offering surgeries to help obese people lose weight. None of these Jewish characters is a doctor.
One Jewish character is Aaron Bernstein, the boyfriend of Mellissa Otherson, the rebellious daughter of the older surgeon, Dr. Clayton Otherson. In Dr. Otherson’s social circle, and that of his wife Catherine, a daughter with a Jewish boyfriend evidently loses one status. It is a country club no-no. So the function of the Adam character is to indicate how alienated Mellissa has become from her parents. More a cliché than an actual character is Clara Bernstein, mother of the boyfriend, who objects to the idea of her grandchild being christened.
Another presumably Jewish character is Helen Rappaport, a young girl who in the wake of sexual abuse becomes fatter and fatter, until finally she undergoes surgery to counteract her obesity. This is against the recommendation of the younger surgeon, Dr. Michael Boudreaux, who, as Chief of Service, now supervises Dr. Otherson who once had been his professor and mentor. When the operation proves unsuccessful–even harmful- the girl’s father, Marcel Rappaport, wants revenge. The fact that daughter and father are Jewish seems quite incidental, not really advancing the main plot.
The main plot deals with the medical dispute between Dr. Otherson and his protegé, Dr. Boudreaux, and the romance of refuge that develops between Catherine Otherson and Dr. Boudreaux.. While Clayton Otherson has been cold, almost unfeeling, towards Catherine for most of their showcase marriage, his pride won’t allow him to let her love another. Coupled with the pressure he faces from his peers at the hospital, the feelings Catherine displays toward Boudreaux drive Dr. Otherson into an ever-deepening spiral of destructiveness.
Amid this story of love and jealousy is a sub-theme, quite disturbing, in which several teenage girls are the subject of physical and mental abuse, even at the hands of those whom you would think would know much better.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted at email@example.com
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=32155