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The Spirit of the Place

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  88 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Notorious for its Rabelaisian comedy, and celebrated for its humanism, Samuel Shem's "The House of God "was hailed as "troubling and hilarious...brutally honest" ("The New York Times"), a ""Catch-22 "with stethoscopes" ("Cosmopolitan"). Now in his most ambitious novel yet, Shem returns to dissect the complicated relationships between mothers and sons, ghosts and bullies, d ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published December 1st 2012 by Berkley Books (first published June 2008)
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Viviane Crystal
As a very young boy, Orville Rose senses that he is "a part of something else," a joyous cry that his mother quickly quashes with the stern response, "This is all there is." Orville runs to his room in tears and basically spends the rest of his life running away.

Now after he has served overseas as a Doctor Without Borders and seen all there is to see of suffering, disease, murder and more, he has fallen in love with an Italian woman, Celestina. His tranquility is shattered upon receiving a teleg
...more
Literary Ventures Fund
Apr 17, 2008 Literary Ventures Fund rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Samuel Shem's HOUSE OF GOD, fans of great fiction, anyone who is or knows doctors
The Spirit of the Place
Samuel Shem

'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 Carroll, National Book Award Winner and author of House of War


Book Description

Samuel Shem's first novel, The House of God, the classic novel of life and death in an American hospital, has sold more then two million copies and is required reading in medical schools throughout the w
...more
Marvin
An extraordinarily well-written novel about a 39-year-old doctor who, upon his mother's death, returns to his home town, a decaying Hudson River community in upstate New York, and is compelled by the terms of his mother's will to stay for a year. This is no nostalgic homecoming; the town's many shortcomings, failures, & "breakages" are elaborated--and exaggerated--in detail, and they are what represent "the spirit of the place." Despite the extraordinary writing and the interesting character ...more
Bruce
I picked up this book because James Fallows recommended it on his blog. I read to the end because of the characters. I didn't mind that not every mystery was solved, not every misunderstanding was set right. That's how it is in real life. The sense of breakage in place, people, and relationships was delicately interweaved. All the famous people connected to the city of Columbia, New York -- especially the contemporary ones like Ollie North -- gave me a fact checking itch, but not enough to scrat ...more
Kristy
A solid novel about a wandering expatriate doctor who is forced to live in his childhood home in his small New England home for one year and 13 days by the terms of his mother's will. As you might expect, he has to face some truths about his family and himself while he is waiting for his inheritance. The best parts are the doctoring bits, which I assume are relatively truthful since Shem (the pen name of Stephen Bergman) is actually a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty.
Elaine
Orville Rose has spent his whole life running away from the people and places that make him feel uncomfortable. Now his mother is dead and as a condition of her will she wants him to stay - for a year and 13 days in his childhood home. The Spirit of the Place follows Orville through the ups and downs of those 378 days as he tries to find a place for himself in the town where he grew up.
Jess
REALLY predictable - no surprises in this book. Still, I finished it, which says something. It was like watching a movie when you've already read the book first. You know the ending already, but you want to enjoy seeing the plot get there. Pretty good overall.
Jude
I love the house of God when I read it as a student. I was hoping this book would be similar in content. However I found it to be a completely different flavor And it took a while to get over my disappointment. Eventually I did enjoy the book.
Melissa
I can't get past chapter 1 - it really does not catch my interest (plus I have advance copy).
Liz
Not anything like his classic, House of God, but a good read. Quirky characters.
Susan
Not shaping up too great.
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Pen name of Stephen Joseph Bergman.
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