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.