A child holds the hand of his dying mother and is terrified, aware something is taking her. Orphaned and given to an itinerant barber-surgeon, Rob Cole becomes a fast-talking swindler, peddling a worthless medicine. But as he matures, his strange gift—an acute sensitivity to impending death—never leaves him, and he yearns to become a healer.
Arab madrassas are the only authentic medical schools, and he makes his perilous way to Persia. Christians are barred from Muslim schools, but claiming he is a Jew, he studies under the world’s most renowned physician, Avicenna. How the woman who is his great love struggles against her only rival—medicine—makes a riveting modern classic.
The Physician is the first book in New York Times–bestselling author Noah Gordon’s Dr. Robert Cole trilogy, which continues with Shaman and concludes with Matters of Choice.
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Dr. Robert Judson Cole travels from his ravaged Scotland homeland, through the operating rooms of Boston, to the cabins of frontier Illinois. In the wilderness he befriends the starving remnants of the Sauk tribe, who have fled their reservation. In the process, he absorbs their culture and learns native remedies that enrich the classical medical education he received at Edinburgh University. He marries a remarkable settler woman he had saved from illness. The details of how their deaf son manages to become a physician also, despite his handicap, and the story of how the Cole family is sucked into the bloody vortex of the Civil War and survives, makes an exceptional reading experience.
Roberta Jeanne d’Arc Cole is favored to be named associate chief of medicine at a Boston hospital. She is married to a surgeon. They own a trophy residence on historic Brattle Street in Cambridge and a summer house in the Berkshire Hills.
Everything melts away. Her gender and her work at an abortion clinic cost her the hospital appointment. Her marriage fails. Crushed, she goes to the farmhouse in Western Massachusetts, thinking to sell it, and finds an unexpected life. How she continues to fight for every woman’s right to choose, while acknowledging her own ticking clock and maternal yearning, makes this prize-winning third story of the Cole trilogy as relevant as tomorrow.