The Surgeon’s Wife is split into three parts. Vivid illustrations on the book cover and also preceding the text for each part perfectly complement this engaging story. The book is told from multiple viewpoints which provides valuable insight into the feelings, perceptions, and motives of each of the pertinent characters in the story, and how they are affected by the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Mike Boudreaux is the chief of surgery at a prominent hospital in New Orleans, and he is called upon to make tough decisions about his partner, Clayton Otherson, who is making life-threatening mistakes in surgery. Mike owes the success of his career to Clayton and wants to help his colleague and friend, a distinguished and influential bariatric surgeon, avoid suspension by the hospital operating room committee. Mike can impact decisions made by the committee since he is the chair, and Clayton believes that Mike should make any complaints about his competency as a surgeon go away. However, the safety of patients is Mike’s top priority. When the committee puts some restrictions in place that affect Clayton in his surgeries of obese patients, this action puts up barriers in Mike and Clayton’s friendship.
As Clayton’s ability on whether or not he is a component surgeon continues to be scrutinized by his colleagues, it not only begins to take an emotional toll on his mental health but it also puts his marriage in jeopardy. Catherine, Clayton’s wife, finds herself attracted to Mike, and when family life becomes unbearable, she turns to him for help and support. Things become even more complicated when Mike and Catherine begin having an affair. Will this affair and Clayton’s struggling career destroy his marriage and friendship with Mike? Things come to a head in a final confrontation that will change the lives of everyone involved forever.
William H. Coles does an excellent job of immersing readers into the fictional world of where the story takes place. The story brings out the contentious debates that can arise between hospital staff members as to whether economic interests are more important than patient care. An underlying theme of the story deals with the psychological and emotional effects on a martial relationship that is in a crisis mode along with the subsequent strain on the offspring caught in the middle. There is some profanity in the book, but it fits with the personalities of the characters.