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Magnificent Obsession

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,506 Ratings  ·  273 Reviews
1929. Magnificent Obsession is Douglas's first book. The novel introduces themes that reappear in the author's later books-a medical setting, a wealthy background, the conversion of the atheist hero to a practicing Christian from feelings of guilt. In this case it's after causing the death of a brain surgeon, Wayne Hudson.
Published by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1929)
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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
I have seen the Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson movie several times, but had yet read this 1st edition book that I found in an end table I purchased at a flea market. And I must say the book surpassed the excellent movie. It is a moving book that epitomizes the Christmas and New Year Seasons. Interwoven lives are affected by tragic accidents. Saved from drowning, Robert Merrick learns the price that was paid by eminent Dr. Wayne Hudson and transforms his life to continue Hudson’s work and make amends ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
“Pay it forward”-esque novel written in the late 1920s about a wealthy young cad turns altruist. I truly liked, and rooted for, the protagonist and found the writing style unique and quirky and very post-flapper. The sentence structure all over the place and Tourette’s-like at times so I can see why other reviewers took issue with it even though it worked for me. Indeed, for a “light” read it can be a bit hard to muddle through.

Despite having been written over 80 years ago, this story has a new
May 24, 2013 Jodi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book didn't rise nearly to the heights of The Robe. It has
good intentions, but falls flat. Douglas doesn't seem to be sure what
kind of book he wants to write. Sometimes it reads like a romance novel
and other times like a religious novel, but a very apologetic one. He
seems almost ashamed of proclaiming any sort of religious belief. He
tries to pigeonhole religion as a science, sneering at those "namby-
pamby folks" who sing hymns and recite scripture. In fact, I don't
know if he ever refers to
Jan 13, 2009 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a really hard time getting into this book so it took me a while to finish it, but once I got started I really enjoyed it. I enjoy Lloyd Douglas' writing style as well as his creative outlook on religious themes. I definitely needed to read an inspiring book lately and this one was a perfect fit. I finished it a couple days before fast sunday and then that weekend was studying the topic of fasting, I read the article in the April 09 Ensign by Shayne M. Bowen on Fasting With Power and was st ...more
Jan 03, 2008 Kendra rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Kendra by: Darcy
I have read this book at least twice. I think it is a young adult book. But the story is so good, well written, and inspiring. It's just fun to read like watching your favorite movie, it just makes you feel good. I have my own copy if any of my friends want to borrow it.
Trula Rae
Apr 21, 2014 Trula Rae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lloyd Cassel Douglas, 1877-1951, was a minister before he was an author. MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION, was his first book written and published after he retired from the pulpit around 1928. How appropriate then that this books main subject centers around his old boss, the Galilean from Nazareth. His novels are of a didactic tone purposed for developing strong moral character. His writing is of the very formal literary style of the day, and tilt toward the upper class vernacular of that era. This is a ...more
Nov 21, 2014 Trace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-booklist
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sylvia Bielefeldt
I am currently re-reading this 1929 edition I purchased for $3.00 at the public library. I read this many years ago as a teenager, then again as a young mother. I still find enjoyment and inspiration in the theme of the book now as I enter my 60's. To serve without expecting recognition, reward or thanks is a rather unusual approach to life. This is a theme often popular at Christmas by giving to the needy without expecting anything in return except the warm feelings in the heart. In this book, ...more
Apr 29, 2011 Chrystie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really really liked this book. I would give it 4 1/2 stars if that was an option. It started a little slowly, but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. It has a great message, a likable (if sometimes exasperating) main character, and a cute little love story. I thought that it was kind of weird how abruptly the love story suddenly resolved itself, but I like happy endings so I guess I am okay with it. I really enjoyed the writing style. It was very clever and funny, and full of sentences lik ...more
Aug 03, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some call this book inspirational others call it a romance. I call it both. Though the romance is certainly not heavy. The author pushes some interesting ideas though the telling of a story. Most comments talk about the idea of "I've already used it all up" but I found the idea of never allowing a person to break off from you mad interesting. Wish I had someone to talk to about this idea.
I also really enjoyed the style of writing and found myself often rereading many phrases just to make sure I
Read ages ago, so I'm going by a rusty memory. However, I do remember that I wanted to tell the WORLD about it, but one mustn't do that if one wishes to do that. Even as a teen, I understood the concept, and it's loss should I decide to bring it to the mundane by sharing it with ... anyone. Oh, did I forget to mention, you can share the book just fine. It's the magnificent obsession itself that needs to live in the privacy of one's own soul.

It still informs some of my more pure actions today to
Nov 29, 2012 Julie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
This book is only "Christian" in that it does mention Jesus regularly. However, the portrayal of Jesus--his nature and purpose--is skewed from that of Savior to pragmatic, scientific, pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps leader. Although the plot is clever, my distaste for the theology made it virtually impossible to enjoy. I did not finish. Sorry, Rev. Douglas, I know your intentions were good--but you landed wide of the mark.
Aug 29, 2010 VeeAnn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites all-time! Just DON'T see the movie. You would think with Rock Hudson and Jane Weyman it would be pretty good. Unfortunately, they only kept the romance (which they still changed) and left out the best part of the book - the message. The message I got from the book is that anything you do for others comes back to you multiplied. I read it the first time in junior high and it has had a lasting impact!
Everyone in my ward book club liked this one for the Christian message. I found the Good Samaritan rhetoric too overt and materialistic--the message in part was that if you help other people, God will magnify your talents to make you wildly successful in your vocation. But I have to admit that I really liked the romance. Tip: the movie (with Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson) has a completely different plot, and I found it a bit unwatchable.
Sep 29, 2013 Claudia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the movie; didn't enjoy the book. The narrative didn't flow for me. I found myself reading some sentences two or three times before I had the meaning. The explanation of the "secret", while repeated a number of times seemed convoluted and, I believe, distorted the messages of the New Testament into some sort of new age philosophy.
Dec 23, 2014 Jz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jz by: My mom
Wow! This book drove me nuts! There were two subplots-one romantic and one that wasn't. The romance was all right but what really drew me in was the mystery of the other plot, which didn't help because it never solved the mystique around it. Definitely something I want to have a book discussion on.
Megan Franks
Jun 06, 2011 Megan Franks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Young Mr. Merrick doesn't have a care in the world. He is rich, spoiled and lives only for his own pleasure until the day he wakes up in a hospital and discovers that a good man has died because his life was spared. His encounter with death causes him to seek a penance of sorts: he buckles down at college determined to become a great brain surgeon like Dr. Hudson, the man whose life was lost so at a his might be saved. Along the way, he is introduced to a coded journal among the doctor's persona ...more
Jun 25, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I really enjoyed this story of an aimless man who, through circumstances beyond his control, finds himself compelled (if unwillingly) to take on a life of philanthropy and service. It was an interesting viewpoint from which to consider what it means to live a selfless life, and the enlightenment that can come from such a commitment. Many reviews here speak of this being a Christian book, but to say such implies an exclusion of other religions to which the concepts within this story apply. I woul
Dale Pearl
Feb 18, 2008 Dale Pearl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Magnificent Obsession is a story of interwoven lives, deeds done in secrecy, and love shared but not spoken. This is not a biblical story or a story that is designed as a bible teaching. It is purely a work of fiction and should be sought after only as such.

Summary: Bobby Merrick lives and Dr Hudson dies. There is to much to ruin in the story buy giving away more than that. Suffice to say that Dr. Hudson's death profoundly changes Bobby Merrick and for the betterment of the world! I can find no
Deb Van iderstine
I came to Douglas's novel after viewing both film versions, and find myself surprised at the considerable departures taken from the novel, a best-selling book, and thus well-known to the public. While the basic story-line is apparent, important details and major characters are drawn very differently, perhaps most notably the question of Helen's blindness, which in both films is the result of an accident caused by Robert Merrick not terribly long after he has inadvertantly been the agent of her h ...more
Apr 09, 2011 Jess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jess by: Mom
Shelves: fiction, z_11
Took awhile to get into it. I fluctuated between moments of not wanting to put it down and moments of boredom/skimming. The writing--perhaps due to it's age--can be wordy. It's best to read this in large chunks because after you get going, your minds works with the sentence structure. Truly. The first five minutes or so each night had some sighs but they went away.

So - The concept is good, but I wish Douglas would have stuck closer to the one I expected. Don't you just hate when authors don't do
Sondra Wolferman
Apr 15, 2011 Sondra Wolferman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoy classic fiction.
The plot required a little too much 'suspension of disbelief' for my taste. From a feminist perspective, the female characters were an insult to my intelligence, all of them being rather weak, selfish and dependant. The theme of the book can pretty much be summed up in modern terms by the phrase, 'What goes around comes around'---a noble sentiment, but in real life very questionable. I found it strange that the high-minded hero, Merrick, would fall so deeply in love with a woman of such dubious ...more
May 09, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to speed race to get this book read in time for book club last night. I think reading it so quickly served me well. There are a LOT of characters that weave in and out of the story as the book spans many years of time. I REALLY enjoyed the whole idea of this book. The plot being that a man dies at the exact same moment that another man's life is saved at his expense. The 'saved' man then spends the rest of his life trying to make of himself anything close to what the deceiced man's life wa ...more
Sep 03, 2008 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the movie was sweet, even with cardboard Rock Hudson in it (with Jane Wyman). But the book is much better. I liked the characters in the book much better than I liked the movie characters...The movie really watered down the plot (I guess that's not uncommon) and it truncated some good characters....

In fact, I found this a very engaging book with an interesting scientific/religious premise. It was written by an ex-minister. It's really a religious book disguised. I'm not sure that I ag
Jan 12, 2010 Jaclyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like I was in The Great Gatsby, riding around the countryside in a little convertible, going from dinner party to dinner party... I loved it! Such a romantic time period and love story!

I have to say, it was different than I thought it was going to be. I thought more would be devoted to the "personality building" concept; I was expecting more of a step-by-step guide. But I enjoyed the scientific perspective on spirituality. I believe very strongly that science and the gospel do nothing but
3.5 stars So my aunt said this was her favorite book when she was a teenager! I guess in the 1950s this was an exceptional book. Though I Like it a lot, isn't one I could read over and over again and again!

For some strange reason I kept getting Helen and Joyce mixed up in my head. The story kept me interested and engaged! I love the philanthropic and Christian (Biblical) angle I wanted to keep reading and finish! I have had a really busy upsetting summer and the fact that It took two months o
Mary Anne
I liked this book. the beginning is a bit overwhelming (too many characters all at once but it turns out none of them are important) and the end a bit abrupt, but the idea for the story and the main part of it is good. Well worth reading.

I didn't like the religious/science bit, because you can't really make religion into science just by changing the names to everything, but if you ignore the annoying vocabulary and pay attentions to what they are saying it's fine.

There is a bit of romance in the
Jan 19, 2011 Carly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful concept. The book's plot is a 'pay it forward' idea, when a rich playboy decides to dedicate his life to helping others and expecting nothing in return.
I love that this was written around the same time as The Great Gatsby, which is one of my faves, but the characters couldn't be more different. Instead of the boozy, roaring twenties Gatsby characters, these characters are driven, remorseful, and sympathetic. (This doesn't mean I like this book MORE than Gatsby, it's just differ
Sep 13, 2012 LemonLinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This easily could have been the inspiration for the movie, Pay It Forward. A young playboy's life is saved instead of that of a well loved brain surgeon who has spent his free time gifting anonymous gifts for those in need of help. The playboy decides it is time that he finally does something of worth with his life and goes to med school. Instantly he becomes a star pupil and he comes across the previous doctor's written journal describing how doing these anonymous things for others ends up enri ...more
I loved "The Robe" by the same author so very much, that I expected this book to be more "magnificent." (sorry, could not help that) However, it has a wonderful premise and a sweet love story. Its structure isn't as tight as "The Robe," and the ending wraps up a little too quickly to be completely satisfying. But the takeaway, that doing acts of secret service are the only ones that really count, is very thought provoking. The journals of Dr. Hudson, discovered and read (de-coded, actually) afte ...more
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was a noteworthy American minister and author. He spent part of his boyhood in Monroeville, Indiana, Wilmot, Indiana and Florence, Kentucky, where his father, Alexander Jackson Douglas, was pastor of the Hopeful Lutheran Church. He died in Los Angeles, California.
Douglas was one of the most popular American authors of his time, although he didn't write his first novel until he was 50.
His written w
More about Lloyd C. Douglas...

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