Book Reviews

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

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List Price: £11.61


Paperback: 411 Pages.

Published: 06 March 2012 by Ballantine Books Inc.

Edition: Reprint

ISBN: 081298000X

EAN: 9780812980004

Born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Soon, with few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally with his partner, Maria Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian whore. In search of high-stakes poker, the couple hits the saloons of Dodge City. And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins-- before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology--when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety.


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

A truly great read

This book is based on a period in the life of "Doc" Holliday a consumptive gambler who lived by his wits and was eventually involved in the gunfight at the OK Coral. I don't have a lot of knowledge about the period so I can't testify about the accuracy of the events although the author does state that this particular period in his life is fictionalised although most of the characters are based on real people. I have not read a lot of Westerns but found myself totally absorbed in this one.

The story is really a study of character. Doc is actually a dentist who is effectively exiled from his family from life to live in a dry environment because of his tuberculosis. He sets himself apart from other people because of his more middle class upbringing but also because he feels that he is different. He also has a complex and volatile relationship with his mistress Kate. They are living in Dodge City when they become involved with Wyatt Earp and a series of events in which Doc is at the centre.

I was totally captivated by this book. I thought that the portrayal of Doc was well nuanced and the fact that his health affected all his decisions and actions was excellently shown. You see a man who knew that he had little life left and who was forced to relocate to somewhere he hated and which was totally alien to him. You understand that he seeks to bring some manners and sophistication into the life he lives but that he also has to break out occasionally and do something wild. You also watch a man who is dying slowly and painfully. I really couldn't put this book down.

This is a great read. It is a book that has made me think about reading other Westerns and also go immediately to buy the sequel.

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