Joe Peas Reviewed By Gordon Osmond of
Gordon Osmond

Reviewer Gordon Osmond : Gordon is a produced and award-winning playwright and author of: So You Think You Know English--A Guide to English for Those Who Think They Don't Need One, Wet Firecrackers--The Unauthorized Autobiography of Gordon Osmond and his debut novel Slipping on Stardust.

He has reviewed books and stageplays for and for the Bertha Klausner International Literary Agency. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School and practiced law on Wall Street for many years before concentrating on writing fiction and non-fiction. You can find out more about Gordon by clicking HERE

Gordon can also be heard on the Electic Authors Showcase.

By Gordon Osmond
Published on September 26, 2016

Author:Sam Newsome

Publisher:Lulu Publishing Services

ISBN:ISBN: 978-1-4834-4825-1 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-4834-4826-8 (e)

Author:Sam Newsome

Publisher:Lulu Publishing Services

ISBN:ISBN: 978-1-4834-4825-1 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-4834-4826-8 (e)

A question that nags the reader of this charming novel until around its mid-point is why the title of the book is not Doc King, family doctor and family man. Sure, there’s a quaint house painter named Joe Peas hanging around, but he’s just one of many fascinating characters that fill, and sometimes overfill, the good doctor’s schedule. Certainly Doc King possesses the necessary qualities of a novel’s protagonist—intelligence, patience, and concerned caring for both patients and family.

To be sure, Joe begins the story with his appearance as a war orphan resembling the unfortunate Aleppo urchin so widely photographed recently. He appears later most prominently as a patient of Doc King as a result of a heart problem and later rooftop fall. But by this time, we’ve met other patients whose stories are at least as fascinating as Joe’s: a widow whose back story involves being savagely attacked by her common law son-in-law, a starchy centurion, and a terminal cancer victim with a strong sense of family. The story of a farmer whose tyrannical ways drive his wife to being a less-than-ideal caretaker of her stroke-stricken husband involves secret cameras but later sort of peters out perhaps because its theme of patient abuse is eclipsed by the more dramatic expression of the theme in a nearby patient station.

Joe emerges as a major character when he catalyzes the climax of the conflict between Doc King and the enforcer of housing uniformity dictated by the by-laws of the community development in which Doc lives. This takes the novel into more weighty territory, as it deals with significant issues relating to individualism v. collectivism and the role of art in enhancing and deepening the human experience. The novel’s ending is an enormously satisfying bookend of an introductory scene.

The ability of author Newsome to capture the essence of a small town family doctor’s practice and challenges is largely explained when the reader learns in the ending biography section that he is, in fact, Doc King. This gives the novel an air of authenticity which makes it well worth reading.

The writing itself is of uneven quality. For every:

Her living room evaporates before her eyes as if it were smoke scattered by the wind.”

The first shot looked like a plate of vanilla ice cream. The second photo looked like the same plate of vanilla ice cream, but with a cherry sitting in the center.”

Eventually the blacktop surrendered to gravel, and a rooster tail of dust followed their vehicle.”

There are less admirable passages, e.g.,

She has the classic signs of domestic abuse. I know she would come to see Ida more often, but Rory won’t let her be alone with her mother, and when she does visit, Rory watches them both like a hawk, or should I say a vulture. He seems more like a vulture than a hawk. You’d think that Ida and Lora had a secret they didn’t want Rory to know.” “Have you seen any signs of physical abuse?” Sharon shook her head.” Sharon seems at least imprecise when talking of signs of physical abuse.

“…waxed, wet, and slippery” Wouldn’t a floor that is waxed and wet necessarily be slippery?

“…insane, drugged-out maniac?” What is a sane maniac?

Doc was planted without ceremony on the front steps of the auction house. The security guards told him to “sober up” before he returned.” Who is “he”?

To the proofreader’s credit, Lora became Laura on only one occasion.

Playwrights and novelists are continually admonished to “show, not tell.” Too often author Newsome addresses the issue by doing both, which gives rise to a reader reaction, “Yes, we know, we already read about it a few pages ago.”

At the end, I would say that the novel’s warts are completely operable and should not prevent readers from enjoying and being warmed by this generous sharing of a good doctor’s life experiences, real and imagined.