May 28 2009
Dear Ms. Brady,
After I bought your book, I pulled it up on my Sony and began to read the opening scene. Which is where I stopped, more than a little afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to read a book which seemed to be headed towards over sensationalism. A screeching vehicle bringing in a badly wounded person who a young doctor is determined won’t die on her watch? Hmmmm, let’s read a different book first.
But something made me give it one more try. One chapter, I promised myself, and I’ll know whether it’ll work or not. Good thing for me I tried again because from that point on, I was hooked.
I have endless admiration for those who are in the front lines of emergency medicine. They get it all – from people in the wrong place at the wrong time to those with a long history of destructive behavior which they then expect doctors to fix with a cure all pill. And then there’s the daily grind of sore throats, chronic diseases and assorted ills which bring patients in to see the doctor.
Working in a small clinic in a small town in rural Montana would allow Maude DeVane to experience it all. Plus the fun of knowing all her patients, socializing with most of them and having them remember her from childhood. There’s not much she can hide behind and with a gossip network as sophisticated as that in St. Adelbert, everyone knows everything about everybody and usually before the people involved even know it themselves.
Maude is the kind of doctor I look for myself. Dedicated to her patients, willing to go the extra mile, funny and smart. But in case I thought you were setting her up as Little Miss Perfect, she has some dark secrets that haunt her plus a whole town of people to win over to having a woman as their sole doctor. With US rural healthcare in the desperate state it’s in, I would think they’d be thrilled that someone wants to live and practice there but maybe there are still hold outs who think having a schlong makes one a better doctor. Idiots.
Guy Daley is the kind of doctor I’d take if a caring one wasn’t available. Not that he doesn’t do a good job but Guy just comes across to me as a man more interested in medicine than patients. But with a Haunting Incident from his past as well, Guy has Issues which have lead him to put medicine behind him. Will Maude win herself a place in this small town and eventually be called “Doc” by her patients? Can Guy overcome the second guessing that has withered his confidence? Will they both get past their five year old images of the other and find love? And what about Guy’s niece who is too old too fast due to the hurts and heartbreaks of her young life?
The story highlights the joys and downside of living in such a small, isolated town. Some characters can’t imagine living elsewhere while others can’t wait to get out. And then there are those who swing back and forth. I think you do a good job of conveying the aspects which keep people rooted to small town living as well as the drawbacks.
I also enjoyed many of the secondary characters. Maude’s BFF Sally is a hoot. She takes on Maude’s enemies as her own, cheers Maude in her romantic encounters yet doesn’t descend into merely a cardboard support for Maude. I was charmed at the image of Maude, Sally and Sally’s young daughter, sitting in front of the TV with deely bobbers on their heads, eating Oreo cookies. Indeed, most of the townspeople we actually meet are portrayed as real people instead of hick stereotypes even if many are briefly mentioned in passing. I still think Gene Wilder’s comment to Cleavon Little in “Blazing Saddles”
What did you expect? “Welcome sonny,” “Make yourself at home,” “Marry my daughter.” You’ve got to remember, that these are just simple farmers, these are people of the land, the common clay of the new west. You know . . . morons.
applies to their feelings about a female doctor, though.
The major exception is Mr. McCormick who is almost a parody. Really he’s just a Baaaad Villain with no real depth to him. Whenever he appeared, I rolled my eyes and plowed through a scene of him being an ass. How did he get to be a town councilman anyway?
Yet, he does serve to illuminate some things. Maude and Guy’s reaction to him and his venom seems real life. They are doctors first and foremost and feel compelled to help even the unlovable and nasty people of the world. In addition, his efforts to oust Maude from her position give her a chance to show the reader a backbone that doesn’t bend when pressure is applied.
Lexie in some ways seems fairly advanced for a twelve year old but then I have to remember that she’s seen a lot and experienced a lot of hurt and loss already in her life. And does any child that age feel truly understood? Or does any parent/guardian really think s/he has a clue what makes a teenager tick?
The resolution between Maude and her mother comes fairly quickly for something that’s been hanging over their heads for so long. I guess the incident with Sally’s family brought it on? I will be honest and say that the romantic ending, though romantic, screamed “movie of the week” to me.
So, even though I was hooked by the story, there were still some downs with the ups. But the ups win hands down. The medical scenes were great. The realizations by Maude and Guy that perhaps they weren’t totally to blame for the things in their pasts plus their lack of allowing those secrets to paralyze them was a nice surprise. The fact that you didn’t feel the need to force a total conclusion of these issues but rather left the feeling that Maude and Guy would continue on their paths to peace at their own pace was a very nice surprise. And the wry humor Maude displays reminded me of Carla Kelly at her best. Yeah, I’m pretty happy to have read this one. B-