The Doctor's Daughter
Hilma Wolitzer
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Buy *The Doctor's Daughter* by Hilma Wolitzer online

The Doctor's Daughter
Hilma Wolitzer
272 pages
February 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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After a twelve-year hiatus, Hilma Wolitzer (Hearts, The Company Of Writers) returns to writing fiction with The Doctor’s Daughter. The protagonist in this novel is Alice Brill, a 51-year-old wife, mother and “book doctor” (also known as an editor) and frustrated writer (has there ever been a writer who wasn’t frustrated?) who wakes up one morning with a strange pain behind her sternum that she thinks might be cancer, which took the life of her mother thirty years previous. From the opening chapter:

The moment I awoke I knew something was terribly wrong. I could feel it in that place behind the breastbone, where bad news always slides in like junk mail through a slot. It was there that acknowledged my parents would die someday (“Oh, sweetheart, but not for such a long, long time!”); where I knew I was ugly and would never be loved; where I suffered spasm of regret about my marriage and my children, and fear of their deaths and my own.
There is a deep worry within Alice, a sense of dread lodged within her that she cannot shake. The daughter of a once-prominent surgeon, Alice now has to watch her father decline from Alzheimer’s. She is also constantly squabbling with her husband, Everett, over how to discipline their youngest child, who might be a drug addict. Nudged into seeing a psychiatrist by her friend, Alice begins to question the idyllic marriage her parents had. Into this mix, Alice finds herself physically attracted to a new young writer she is editing.

The Doctor’s Daughter reads like a good memoir; filled with raw emotion and real life conflict that you are rapt from the first word. It is that authenticity which makes this novel so moving and so good. It is not a fast paced summer blockbuster, but it is an excellent book. The depth and richness of character is its strength, and those looking for such a book will be richly rewarded.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Bobby Blades, 2006

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