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The Spirit of the Place Hardcover – June 15, 2008
The Daughter of Union County
To save his heritage, he hides his daughter’s true identity—but he can’t protect her forever. Learn More
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"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
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Shem's prose is mesmerizing and beautiful. This is a book to be savored. The plot steadily unfolds versus rushing forth. And yet, it held my attention from start to finish.
The most outstanding aspect of this novel, for me, was the emotional depth that Shem conveyed in his characters. Especially in Orville and Miranda, but also in secondary characters such as the old town physician Bill Starbuck, Miranda's sweet six year-old son Cray and Orville's passionate, impulsive pre-teen niece Amy. Even characters who made brief appearances, such as the flighty, ethereal Celestina Polo, and Starbuck's dutiful wife Babette were vivid to the reader through Orville's narration.
Orville was a man full of turmoil. His love life. His career. His relationship with his deceased mother. All his life he ran away instead of staying. Because of the terms of his mother's will, he is forced to stay. In Columbia, that is.
The town of Columbia is a character in and of itself. A town so unbelievably self-destructive that it borders on hilarious. Orville stayed under duress. Thanks to his mother's will, he stood to gain almost a million dollars by staying for at least one year and thirteen months. Could he learn to love, or at least accept his hometown. Would he?
Then there was his relationships with women. I wouldn't say I didn't like Celestina Polo, but I thought she was wrong for Orville. Miranda, on the other hand, I not only adored but completely sympathized with. It was difficult to watch Miranda and Orville's relationship deteriorate.Read more ›
When Dr. Orville Rose is informed of his mother's passing back home, he is living a nearly Utopian life in Europe with a yoga instructor and happily engaging himself as a physician in a high end spa. His mother has left him a good sized inheritance, but a condition comes with it. He reluctantly returns home to a town he never wanted to return to. He must stay in his mother's house for a year and thirteen days. To occupy his time, he assists the town doctor. During the time he spends there, he finds something he's been lacking (but thought he had) in his Utopian life.
As the imposed time draws near, he struggles to choose between two vastly different lives. I enjoyed following him on his journey of the soul. Even though it's been a while since i sat down and read Spirit of the Place, but it has stayed with me. Dr. Rose' journey into true healing of his spirit.
Sam Shem, a Harvard psychiatrist, weaves a trail of human pain into a tale of faltering, and ultimately, illuminated healing. His main character is a modern-day Bodhisattva, bringing light into dark places. Although the book is published in the Kent State University series on literature and medicine, it seems to be equally at home in Buddhist psychology. It's a deeply compassionate book and I feel like a better person for having read it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story. Not too deep. I love the writer and that's why I wanted to read it.Published 16 days ago by C. Peterson
I might like this if it were 75 Pages. 3/4 of this book drug on and on and on forgetting necessary dialogue and action. I would not recommend this book.Published 2 months ago by sltfain
The author's first book was a masterpiece. The second, interesting. This was just a novel. Time spent reading it was not wasted, but could have been spent better elsewhere.Published 2 months ago by David S. Grauman
Toned down from House of God, but less focused on medicine and more just a story in a fictitious town.Published 7 months ago by Rufus
Samuel Shem is best known as the author of The House of God and Mount Misery. While this is not a funny as The House of God, it`s not as sad either, a completely different stand... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
Too many words describing mundate things. I liked the story but it gets tiresome plowing through
boring conversations and pointless descriptions.
a story of discoveries of people in places they thought they'd long left behind, themselves included, to discover destinations both anticipated and unanticipated that led to... Read morePublished on March 12, 2014 by vincent f. maher