The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles is, in the author’s characteristic style, a character-driven story that follows two multidimensional characters in a conflict that involves profession and love. Clayton is an experienced surgeon who mentored Mike. Clayton is older in the profession and his age also leads him to commit errors that put the lives of patients in danger. Mike is the head of the operation room and he takes steps to discipline his older colleague, even if it hurts him. While this seems like an insult to Clayton, the insult becomes aggravated when Mike starts seeing Clayton’s wife with whom he develops a strong emotional connection. Can Clayton take it?
I have read and listened to many of William H. Coles’s stories and what has always fascinated me is the way the author crafts characters and the kinds of conflict he puts them into. His characters are always sophisticated and the author uses a flaw in them to put them into difficult situations. The conflict in The Surgeon’s Wife explores the differences between two protagonists and the author uses Mike’s desire for the wife of his colleague and mentor to build the conflict. What is interesting is the way I felt for the characters. While I admired Mike, there were moments I felt so strongly that he betrayed the hand that once fed him. It is easy to feel sympathy for Clayton, but he is also a headstrong character and a man with overweening pride.
Narrated by the author, The Surgeon’s Wife grabs the attention of the reader from the very first moment. It is emotionally intense; the author is so clear and, as the narrator, his voice is strong and compelling. It allows the drama and the conflict to come across clearly to readers. It was a fun ride for me.