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Do No Harm

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  273 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Everyone knows about Virginia: about her stellar reputation as a gynaecologist; about her commitment to her women patients. But does anyone know about the knives? Everyone knows about Faisal too: about his gentle charm and his delight in his family. But does anyone know he's a traitor?
Paperback, 326 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Fig Tree
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Average rating 3.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  273 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Simon Tesler
Feb 06, 2011 rated it liked it
A compelling and intriguing story, but a little too leisurely in its execution. (A common fault in most modern literary fiction I feel). Readers attracted by the blurb, as I was, may be disappointed to find that the narrative drive only really gets going well beyond the halfway point, after pages and pages of very well-written but ultimately superfluous character background and scene-setting. We are introduced, often in considerable detail, to characters or events which serve no real purpose ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: passed-on
Carol Topolskis first novel was called Monster Love. It was extraordinary. Dark. Disturbing. Flawed. But still extraordinary.

And so when I saw Do No Harm, her second novel I was torn. I was intrigued, but I was also a little scared.

In the end, of course, I had to pick it up. I found a very different book, but those four words still applied.

Dark. Disturbing. Flawed. Extraordinary.

Do No Harm is the story of a doctor.

Virginia Denham is a doctor at the very top of her profession: she is a
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
Darkly funny, incredibly detailed portrayal of insanity. The character Virginia is a literary triumph. My only gripe(s) with this book are firstly the way the story kept jumping back and forth in time and between various characters who are drawn into Virginia's orbit. Early on this was quite confusing. And then there's the implied reason for Virginia's madness: I don't feel her emotionally vacant mother is just cause. However, it's possible a person can be born with madness rather than made, so ...more
Tori S
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Plodding and was quite a chore to get through as it didn't really hold my attention. I'm glad I read Monster Lovefirst because I don't think I would have read it after this one.
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was ok

Having not read Topolskis first novel Monster Love, I had no expectations.
I like a good page turner though, and that's what the blurb on the back promised.
No such luck unfortunately.
I had to wade through the long, drawn out first half of the book.
A very, very slow build up to the actual story.
It gathers up some speed towards the end, but the end is predictable and disappointing.
A few medical mistakes, a woman heavily in labour in the third stage springs to mind, think she means first stage!
Sal Noel
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Carol Topolski is a fabulous writer. A clear 5 stars early on- almost didn't matter where the story went. In fact, it didn't matter. Her style makes me hungry for more.
Nothing is overdone. It's stated. She gives us time to mull over but doesn't bombard us.
Characters are complex, well developed and linked intelligently. If this were on audio and your mind drifted you could miss a vital point. Read it leisurely. Wallow in the language. Escape the dumbed down era and be grateful Carol Topolski is
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book has a great story line with solid, engaging character development. An unusual beginning but everything slots in to place quite quickly. The idea behind the story was original and led to a gripping plot. The ending was paced well and the style and language were that of an accomplished writer. Would definitely read more by this author.Very enjoyable.
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Virginia is an excellent gynaecologist but has a dark past which affects her interrelationships. Her past comes back to haunt her when she discovers her mother's secret, a discovery that tips her over the edge. Thrilling read with lots of elements, including medical harm, S&M and self-harming.
Annabel Kantaria
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Creepy, dark and clever.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I find this author's ability to explore the complexities of human nature fascinating. Unlike some other reviewers, I found very little of the forays into the characters histories irrelevant. This is a book about the co-existing "good" & "evil" that exists in all of us, it looks at how extreme those two forces can effect behaviour and the greater consequences of a person's actions temporally, for a community & individuals. I think it's also a book about the impact of parental dedication, ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Well, kept thinking that 'this isn't my kind of book' but persisted to the end. Found it to be very disjointed and I had to keep going back to check what year we were in and concentrate on who I thought the current person was. I did work out how this book was going to end but this definitely isn't my kind of book at all - not something I'd follow up with.
Sam Still Reading
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who enjoy mystery/thrillers
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: liked the sound of the book
I spotted this book in Kinokuniya one Saturday morning, complete with a sticker that said, If you like Sophie Hannah (I do a lot), youll love Carol Topolski. Generally I am somewhat suspicious of these stickers, but my holiday must have relaxed me so I turned to the back cover to read what it was about. It appeared to be about three doctors Virginia, who has a secret about knives; Faisal, who has been a traitor to someone else and Gilda, who sounds fun-loving but has a secret involving rubber. ...more
Cleopatra  Pullen
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is writte over three time periods and involves many characters including Faisal, Virginia and Gilda. It isn't an easy read and I found the first few chapters very confusing as it isn't until later that the bonds between the present day people become clear.

Essentially it the book is about a mad woman but you get some insight along the way into her early life and the reason why she feels compelled to do what she does.

It isn't an easy read and this wasn't helped that I wasn't able to like
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it
At first the book is very confusing in the very way it's written. One chapter for each character. The book mixes up the years and travels from past to present back to past. After the dizziness of traveling in time, I found myself completely addicted to the story and with a terrible hunger for knowing where the author wanted to bring me. The reading took me a while though. I had to stop several times, finding myself sick and disgusted by what I was reading. The ending was worth putting myself ...more
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not quite as inventive as the author's other book, Monster Love, but in a way that's a good thing. (The other title is positively stomach-churning.) The neuroses and compulsions of the protagonist were fascinating to me, and the plot was fulfilling to the end. One should be a very experienced reader of violent and perverse titles before attempting any book by Ms. Topolski, in my opinion. Ye have been warned.

Regardless of what it may say about me as a reader, I do hope that Ms. Topolski is hard
Talia Nyx
Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Takes a bit of getting into. There are several characters storylines going on all at once and across various timelines. Once you've got it all sorted out, it starts to get interesting - you get absorbed with their lives. Long before the end you start to realise that things are a bit off and the story becomes increasingly chilling.
Not a format that I enjoy, but a brilliant piece of work nonetheless.
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Yes enjoyed it. Struggled a bit at the beginning as it hopped around a lot and I didn't know the characters or how they fitted together, but I'm sure it didn't help that I was reading it in short bursts before falling asleep. I like a bit of darkness and some interesting characters. Would read another Carol Topolski.
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Strange book, I really enjoyed Monster Love and was so looking forward to this. The writing was excellent but the story line didn't pick up for me until the last fifty pages when it steamed along nicely. The only character I actually liked was Fasail . A darkly written book that took me forever to read.
Natalie Richards
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book having really enjoyed the disturbingly good Monster Love. I did finish it but really couldn`t wait to be done with it as it was very repetitive and could have been at least 100 pages shorter. ...more
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Intriguing premise. Ambitious. But directionless and ultimately fails to take off (the multiple timelines and storylines, though most of them tie up together, are simply confusing and irritating). What were the editors thinking?
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a great read, Topolski is a fine writer and I sat up late into the night to finish this book. I will be reading more of her wirk.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2012
So disappointing after the brilliant Monster Love.
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
weird but not in a bad way
Aug 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, 2015-reads
Couldn't get into it - at 20 pages I had enough. I usually try at least 50 pages before abandoning but this was just boring, which was a pity because the writing style was pretty good.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Took me longer to get into this one by Topolski, it lacked structure at times, leaving the reader out in the cold, unconnected with the characters. Disappointingly average.
Sonia Puri
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
A bit weird for me could not put it down as i was dying to read it. my understanding of it was not all there so wouldn't blame the writer though.3 stars.
Precious Williams
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Read this yesterday. The book and its heroine sooooo dark that I was unable to sleep. May have to re-read before I can post a proper review, still terrified. LOL
Ursula Kibido
Aug 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Great reads, have never read any of her books before but I though this was dark and twisted. A flawed character that makes for a riveting read
Denise Lee
May 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
A real disappointment I don't even know how to start...
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Carol Topolski is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Her many previous roles include working on the Woodstock festival, in advertising, and as a prison teacher, nursery-school director, director of a rape crisis centre and refuge for battered women, probation officer and film censor. She lives in London and is married with two daughters and two grandchildren.

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