Books by Noah Gordon

THE LAST JEW by Noah Gordon
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

"A sugar-coated history lesson for the cabana at the beach."
Having completed the Cole family trilogy (Matters of Choice, 1996, etc.), Gordon returns to the more familiar territory of Jewish history for his latest period novel.Read full book review >
Released: April 8, 1996

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. (Literary Guild & Doubleday book clubs) Read full book review >
SHAMAN by Noah Gordon
Released: Sept. 15, 1992

Gordon (The Physician, The Jerusalem Diamond, etc.) offers two fictionalized generations of doctoring on the Illinois frontier from 1839 to 1865, covering such medical history as the advent of hygiene and anesthesia. Rob J. Cole, political agitator in Scotland facing banishment to Australia, decides to migrate to the US. A doctor, he lands in Boston and can find work only in the Irish ghetto, making hovel calls for a charity. Disillusioned with the politics of the charity and intrigued with Indians, he heads west, stopping in Illinois at Holden's Crossing. Rob finds his Indians in the Sauks, who have fled the reservation and are now starving nearby. He treats and feeds them, becoming their ``white shaman,'' and eventually Makwa- Ikwa, their healer, goes to work with him. He travels the countryside, snipping off fingers and enlisting household help to pinch off spurting arteries. He removes kidney stones from a recluse named Sarah, who has holed up because she thinks she's dying from cancer. After he removes the stones, she blooms, and they marry. Sarah gives birth to a boy, and Makwa tags him ``Little Shaman.'' At age five, Shaman develops scarlatina and loses his hearing, a disability that makes his road to a medical practice difficult. Both father and son end up doctoring during the Civil War, the carnage of which is graphically described. The story moves too fast to develop either characters or scenes deeply, but it's a good read and has a refreshing approach to the frontier as part of a larger culture, not an isolated place where people did nothing but murder each other. Read full book review >