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Touching Distance

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  15 reviews
It is 1790. After ten years’ training in the great medical schools of Europe, Alec Gordon has returned to Scotland to take up the post of physicianin the Aberdeen Dispensary. Alec has ambitious plans for modernizing medical practice in the town, starting with the local midwives, whose ignorance and old-fashioned methods appal him.

But Alec’s dreams of progress are thrown in
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Pan Macmillan (first published April 30th 2008)
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Patricia Bracewell
Rebecca Abrams’ novel is about an 18th century doctor’s efforts to turn ignorance into knowledge, and it is based on real events. It is absorbing reading – a story beautifully told yet agonizingly vivid in its depiction of labor and childbirth in a time when the transmission of disease from victim to victim was not understood. The underlying tension in the novel stems from the modern reader’s grasp of that connection even while that knowledge remains just out of the reach of the physician, Alex ...more
This is a remarkably crafted and finely balanced novel, which has both a vivid setting and an intensely personal tale. The author weaves the details of different threads of the personal lives of the main characters that bring Alec and Elizabeth Gordon to life within the world of 1790 Aberdeen. She captures the feel of life in a different time, without ever losing the details and depth of Alec and Elizabeth's lives. The novel effectively relates how time does not necessarily move in one direction ...more
Yvann S
Summary: Talented young doctor Alec Gordon is mystified by a fever killing otherwise healthy new mothers. His methods to treat it are greeted with scepticism and are mostly unsuccessful. His accounts show that he is treating many more patients than can afford to pay for his services, and his colleagues at the hospital are not keen on his candour and lack of politics. At home, his wife is struggling with depression and flashbacks of her life in the West Indies. Based on a true story.

I know that t
Took some getting into, partly because it kept ringing bells & I thought I might have read it before. But once I was into it I thought it was excellent. It's about a doctor in the 1700's who makes a study of womaen dying in an epidemic of puerpural fever (hope I spelt that right "childbed fever") He comes to the inescapable conclusion that it is spread by contact not by any magical or vaporous means & tries to speak out. Unfortunately the world is not ready for this news. The local medic ...more
Really disappointing. Had such potential. Interesting and intriguing but not enough character development.
Interesting, but found the West Indies stuff quite unnecessary and found the wife really annoying.
A very interesting and sad book based on the life story of Alexander Gordon. I had no idea of the dreadful dangers of having children in the seventeenth century and indeed even up to the beginning of the twentieth century! The struggle of this man and person sacrifice he made to try and overcome the ignorance of the midwives and even his fellow physicians was really sad. Thank goodness that eventually someone took heed of his findings.
Hilary Lang Greenebaum
oh my - what a sad story (based on true story too!) very intense and disgusting pre - germ theorey gore. However it is quite fascinating and a celebration of the Drs determination for accurate medical knowledge based on evidence. Read if you don't mind descriptions of illness & suffering.
Based on true events, this book doesn't hold back on the medical details. If you are in the latter terms of pregnancy - I suggest you stay away from this book for now!

A very engaging read, a great medical mystery with all the human interest you could ask for.
I enjoyed this book. Picked it up at a bookstore here in England after reading the description on the back cover. I liked that it was based off a true experience, and I thought the author did a nice job of portraying the struggles that the main character faced.
Took me a while to get into it, seemed to jump around a bit too much. However interesting story, incredible to consider how much medicine has changed over the past 200 odd years.
A fascinating picture of life at the time that really brings home what it was like to live with primitive medical care.
✿ Deni
Nice idea for a story but for me, told the wrong way... I found it extremely boring and I didn't like the characters one bit :o(
Abrams first novel is forgettable and the plot is often confused. There are loose ends and the characters lack depth.
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