Andrew Manson, fresh out of university, is ready to take on the world. Full of zeal and passion to change the world of medicine for the better, Dr. Manson has a desire to research and treat pulmonary disease, specifically tuberculosis, that seems to be the culprit especially among the mining population.
In this novel the reader follows Andrew Manson along his path from one disappointment to another, until he finally caves in to the draw of materialism and for a while, loses his dream. Will he ever re-discover his initial passion?
“More than ever it was borne upon him that happiness was an inner state, wholly spiritual, independent – whatever the cynics might say – of worldly possessions. All this time, when he had been striving and tearing after wealth and position and succeeding in every material sense, he had imagined himself happy. But he had not been happy. He had been existing in a kind of delirium, craving more after everything he got. Money, he thought bitterly, it was all for dirty money! First he had told himself he wanted to make a thousand pounds a year. When he reached that income he had immediately doubled it, and set that figure as his maximum. But that maximum, when achieved, found him dissatisfied. And so it had gone on. He wanted more and more. It would in the end have destroyed him.”
I really like A.J. Cronin, but this book seemed a little tedious and disappointing to me. There is a lot of medical terminology that is hard to decipher, and I also did not appreciate the main character’s treatment of his longsuffering, patient wife, Christine. However the author brings redemption to the character when he makes a bad decision in surgery and suffers the consequences.
“He did not know what church it was, nor did he care. He simply sat down in the back seat of all and fixed his haggard gaze upon the dark enshrouded apse. He reflected that Christine in their estrangement had fallen back upon the thought of God. He had never been a churchgoer, but now here he was, in this unknown church. Tribulation brought people here, brought people to their senses, brought people to the thought of God.”
Thankfully, along the way, Andrew Manson has made a couple of long-term friends that support him when he most needs a helping hand. There are lessons to be learned in this book, and the reader is made aware that the choices made in life will ultimately have their effect.