Thanks to a sympathetic, hapless protagonist and his Scrubs-like backup team, this engaging tale sparkles.
"The Education of Doctor Montefiore, the debut novel of Emmet Hirsch, MD, is a poignant and humorous book about the path to becoming a doctor, and it draws back the curtain on the darker aspects of that road traveled. We get a glimpse into the fear and heartbreak, life and death situations, and constant sacrifices inherent in the medical profession...The scenes of his attempts at romance were simultaneously cringe-inducing and made me laugh out loud. I'll never again look at a bagel shop in quite the same way...The characters populating this story, from the lovable to the despicable, are sharply drawn...they are so endearing you happily go along for the ride. And quite a ride it is...The dialogue is crisp and witty...The humor, while maybe not quite as dark as Catch-22 or M*A*S*H, occupies the same space...I enthusiastically recommend "The Education of Doctor Montefiore" to anyone looking for a smart read, a good laugh, or insights into the minds of those who spend their lives caring for us."
Ed Sarna, Windy City Reviews
Vivid storytelling thrusts you inside the grisly, tragic, yet absurdly hilarious world of an ob-gyn residency. Brutally candid and authentic.
Dave Cullen, author of the New York Times bestseller Columbine
A sobering and inspiring reminder of the experience of residency and its roller-coaster of emotions. Dr. Emmet Hirsch captures the events and the emotions in a style that is both raw and honest, punctuated with hope and humor and exquisite character development. This is a hard book to put down. We need dedicated, skilled, compassionate physicians like the fabulous Dr. Montefiore. And we need authors like Dr. Emmet Hirsch to entertain us, but just as importantly to keep us honest, hold us accountable, and remind us why we entered the profession to begin with.
Errol R. Norwitz, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.
Louis E. Phaneuf Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Tufts University School of Medicine
Chairman, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Equal parts high send-up and heartfelt reflection, Emmet Hirsch's The Education of Dr. Montefiore offers up trenchant analysis of the personal and professional paths of those who take sacred oath on behalf of life. These characters, so rich with burden, will leave the reader both puzzling over the folly of learned men and women who trifle with gods, and marveling over the author's examination of vexed personalities jostling for supremacy amid the madcap, the maudlin, and the inevitably mortal.
Bayo Ojikutu, author of Free Burning and 47th Street Black
A debut novel chronicles the ups and downs of a young doctor's four-year residency. Hirsch (Obstetrics and Gynecology/Univ. of Chicago) paints a detailed portrait of Robert Montefiore, an eager but unlucky postgraduate OB/GYN resident at the Chicago School of Medicine's Women's Hospital. Robert's first year, especially, is a real trial by fire: his first solo delivery is a Russian immigrant's 14-pound baby; he counsels a 16-year-old girl with gonorrhea and pelvic inflammatory disease; and a patient dies suddenly after a routine hysterectomy. Despite his exhaustion, he still doggedly pursues Maggie, the younger cousin of his best friend, Larry Lassker. Alas, their two dates over bagels end in varying degrees of disaster. When Maggie leaves for a year at a rural medical clinic in Bolivia, Larry proposes a Cyrano de Bergerac-type scenario: he'll help Robert woo her by letter in exchange for collaboration on a medical study. As it happens, Robert can handle romantic correspondence and the development of a mouse model of infection-induced preterm delivery just fine on his own. Nonetheless, Larry remains a cheery wisecracker who delivers some amusing lines like "Women! Can't live with 'em, can't be a gynecologist without 'em." The lively, warmhearted novel is peopled with vibrant secondary characters, including foulmouthed Dr. Spivey, Betty the omniscient secretary, and Robert's sometimes-nemesis, Lou Harrimon. Hirsch achieves a nice balance between medical procedures, raunchy set pieces (enormous genital warts and sustained confusion between "penal" and "penile"), romance, and humor. Even a midvolume tragedy doesn't wholly dampen the light tone—the wrong corpse turns up at a memorial service. Chapters from other characters' perspectives draw attention away from Robert, whose story might have been better suited to a first-person narrative. On the other hand, the ensemble cast is among the work's greatest strengths; even minor figures pop up to offer quaint advice—resident Mary Pickett insists lunch is the key to survival, and residency director Pat MacGregor praises shortbread as lifesaving in a crisis. An emergency breech delivery climactically bookends the novel's action. Thanks to a sympathetic, hapless protagonist and his Scrubs-like backup team, this engaging tale sparkles.