by A. J. Cronin ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 19, 1948
This- in the Cronin picture- goes back to mood and tempo of his earlier work, the period which saw Stars Look Down; the story itself, with its medical background, will inevitably be bracketed with The Citadel, published in 1937. Its hero is again a doctor, who stubbornly determines to devote himself to pure science and research, to avoid the involvements of general practice and surgery. Dr. Shannon is an oddly prickly individual; he tells his own story, and neither in his own telling nor in the reactions of others in his story does one feel any warmth of affection, scarcely even liking for him. Sensitive, to slights directed against him; unimaginative, in relation to his effect on others; inflexible in his determination to hold to the goal; ruthless in his dislikes and suspicions. He cloaks his own personality in a tissue of lies, and when he is caught shrugs it off. He quarrels with fellow workers, subordinates, chiefs; he makes enemies who betray him when chance is offered. He loses job after job:- a teaching and laboratory assignment, an appointment at a ""cottage hospital""; he breaks with a successful slum doctor over the question of fees; he is entangled in the web of the atmosphere of a mental hospital, and barely escapes with his sanity. Two main threads of story fellow through:-the 18 months research in identification of the bacillus common to influence in humans, Bangs Disease in animals- and its antidote, only to achieve success just too late. And the romance with one of his students, medical student, Jean Law, whose worship of Robert Shannon suffers a rude awakening when she finds that he is not what he claimed to be, and that he is a Catholic, a hopeless barrier to her evangelical rearing and aspirations. Only when the crash of everything he had hoped for threatens his sanity, does she turn her back on her family, her plans, and throw in her lot with him. The story ends, comfortingly, on a note of hope. There's an old-fashioned sort of aura, which many will find appealing. I felt it one of Cronin's lesser efforts. But it will sell.
Pub Date: July 19, 1948
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1948
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