Choices

Overview

With Choices, Noah Gordon brings to a close his great trilogy spanning the generations of the Cole medical dynasty. Beginning with the legendary 11th–century doctor Robert J. Cole, each eldest son has borne the same name and middle initial, and some have possessed the uncanny “sixth sense” known as The Gift—the terrible and instinctive knowledge that someone is about to die. In Choices, it emerges again in the present, but this time in a daughter, Roberta Jeanne d’Arc Cole, known as R.J. She defies her beloved ...

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Overview

With Choices, Noah Gordon brings to a close his great trilogy spanning the generations of the Cole medical dynasty. Beginning with the legendary 11th–century doctor Robert J. Cole, each eldest son has borne the same name and middle initial, and some have possessed the uncanny “sixth sense” known as The Gift—the terrible and instinctive knowledge that someone is about to die. In Choices, it emerges again in the present, but this time in a daughter, Roberta Jeanne d’Arc Cole, known as R.J. She defies her beloved father when she chooses to study law rather than medicine, yet destiny is to overtake her when she realizes that she has inherited The Gift. As she holds the hands of a sick man, R.J. feels a dreadful certainty that he is going to die. Tragically, he is her own lover. Struggling with her grief, R.J. knows she must bow to the inevitable and become a physician. But her life changes when she moves to a small–town practice and is faced with a terrible dilemma.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After taking the pulse of nine centuries of medical practice in the first two volumes of his trilogy about the Cole family of physicians The Physician, 1987; Shaman, 1992, Gordon, in concluding the series, re-examines the modern medical world that he diagnosed 26 years ago in The Death Committee. The protagonist here is R. J. Cole, a 40-ish family practitioner based in Boston, who segued from a promising law career into medicine, where she has been committed to women's rights. Now she is turned down for a top-level hospital post after her participation in an abortion clinic makes her controversial. When her stale marriage to a fellow physician also runs out of steam, Cole moves to the Berkshires, determined to succeed as a country doctor. There, she falls into a problematic romance with a Jewish real estate agent, a recovering alcoholic, former rabbi and single parent for whose 17-year-old daughter Cole secretly arranges an abortion. Gordon's greatest strength is his ability to seamlessly meld his characters' emotional dilemmas and medical crises to dramatic effect. Cole is an appealing figure, and Gordon takes pains with the other characters too, creating thoughtful and nicely nuanced portrayals, especially of Cole's rural neighbors and patients. As a compelling tale of a woman's life and a balanced look at the difficult moral issues driving contemporary medicine, this novel should earn for Gordon the wide readership he already enjoys in Europe. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections. Apr.
Kirkus Reviews
The third and last in Gordon's Cole family series (The Physician, 1986; Shaman, 1992) presents a rather somber view of modern medicine, but the unusual protagonist, who is willing to sacrifice all for her life's passion, offers inspiration as a counterpoint.

It seems as though Dr. R.J. Cole has it all: a thriving career and a chance for a major promotion on the path to chief of staff at her prominent Boston hospital, a husband who is also a distinguished doctor, an elegant house on Cambridge's famous Brattle Street, and a country home in the Berkshires. As the tale unfolds, however, R.J.'s life emerges as dismal and lonely; her marriage is loveless, and Tom has been having an affair; her work at an abortion clinic is controversial, leading to the selection of another physician for what should have been her new position; and the stress of city life and the impersonal style of urban hospitals (allowing little sustained contact with patients) are making her wonder why she ever turned from her first career, law. When she and Tom divorce, R.J. announces to her two best friends, her longtime assistant, and her dad—another of a long line of doctors in the Cole family—that she will be making a radical life change. She decides not to sell her country house as originally planned but to move in and set up a family practice: it's in a part of state where doctors are few and far between. Once out in wild and woolly western Massachusetts, she finds (at least for a time) the love she has been craving, but the real gain of her migration is what she has been most conspicuously lacking in her life—a renewed sense of purpose.

Perhaps Gordon's best work so far; the pace is even, and R.J. is a heroine worth caring about.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780751514742
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication date: 7/1/2001
  • Pages: 388
  • Sales rank: 639,286
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Noah Gordon has won many awards, including the James Fenimore Cooper Prize; among his books are The Physician, Shaman, The Jerusalem Diamond, The Rabbi, The Last Jew, and The Death Committee.

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