Doc by Mary Doria Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book info Genre: Historical Fiction/Western Reading Level Adult
Disclosure: I received a free paperback ARC uncorrected proof from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
Book read late March to early April, 2011 and review written 4/5/2011
Synopsis: Born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health.
Soon, with few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally with his partner, Mária Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian whore. In search of high-stakes poker, the couple hits the saloons of Dodge City. And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins— before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology—when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety.
My Thoughts: I've always had a fascination for the "Wild West" - I've felt a strange connection to the characters of the time and the ideals of Western living. Doc is fictional, but based strongly in fact as well - written like a biography of Doc Holliday - with a great deal about the Earps and Mastersons and various people in Dodge, Kansas - it is very convincing and several times led me to Wikipedia to try to determine the truth or fallacy of the statements made in the text. It begins with his youth in Georgia and follows him through his travels, eventually ending in Dodge. Once he leaves Dodge, we're left with only second-hand accounts for some reason - but up to and including Dodge, the story is pretty complete.
This was a slow-reading book - it took me a couple weeks to get through it - mostly because much of the story is really quite heart-rending. John Henry "Doc" Holliday was a well-educated and thoughtful man, albeit spendthrift and often razor-tongued, and "watching" him die a long, slow death from tuberculosis was quite painful. The fact that the book so affected me is a positive - you really get to feel for these people while you are reading this account of their lives.
Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, fictional biographies and/or the Wild West should enjoy this book.
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