The Spirit of the Place
From the bestselling author of the The House of God comes an ambitious novel about the complicated relationships between mothers and sons, doctors and patients, the past and the present, and love and death...
Settled into a relationship with an Italian yoga instructor and working in Europe, Dr. Orville Rose's peace is shaken by his mother's death. On his return to Columbia, a Hudson River town of quirky people and "plagued by breakage," he learns that his mother has willed him a large sum of money, her 1981 Chrysler, and her Victorian house in the center of town. There's one odd catch: he must live in her house for one year and thirteen days. As he struggles with his decision-to stay and meet the terms of the will or return to his life in Italy-Orville reconnects with family, reunites with former friends, and comes to terms with old rivals and bitter memories. In the process he'll discover his own history, as well as his mother's, and finally learn what it really means to be a healer, and to be healed.
Samuel Shem is a novelist, playwright, and, for three decades, a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty. His novels include
The House of God,
Mount Misery, and
Fine. He is coauthor with his wife, Janet Surrey, of the hit Off-Broadway play
Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (winner of the 2007 Performing Arts Award of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), and
We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues Between Men and Women.
"Samuel Shem captured the humor, the angst and pathos of medical training in that unforgettable book, "The House of God". His new book is an incredible and heartfelt story of a physician whose life has taken the most unexpected twists and turns. "The Spirit of the Place" entertains, satisfies, and affirms; it is beautifully conceived and brilliantly executed. Shem has done it again!"--Abraham Verghese, M.D., author of "Counting for Stone
" "A deeply moving and profounding intelligent exploration of the complexities and rewards of family, profession and place. The story of a young physician returning to his small town becomes a tale with universal meaning. This book continues to resonate in the mind and heart long after it is read." --Jerome Groopman, M.D., author of "How Doctors Think
"In this lovely novel, Samuel Shem brilliantly describes scenery from the Italian Lakes to the Hudson River Valley with vivid enchanting detail. But his real subject is the landscape of the human heart with its dangers and delights, its vertiginous cliffs and mossy woods, its comforts and contradictions. This is a wonderful book about the surprises of human connection and the infinite power of love." --Susan Cheever ""The Spirit of the Place "is written with a large heart, a healing touch, wry and wise insight into the human condition. Worthy of the best of Samuel Shem, which is worthy indeed."--James Carrol "[A] grand, wonderfully insightful story of love and death, mothers and sons, doctors and patients--filled with larger than life characters and told with outrageous Shem-humor and authentic humanity." --Michael Palmer, author of "The First Patient"