La Tendresse

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 19 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:908
  1. Jennifer Leaning, professor of international health. (
  1. Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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    Ken Strauss

    Black Ace Books, £16.95, pp 287

    ISBN 1 87298842 3

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    This first novel by American doctor Ken Strauss attempts, through a complicated narrative conceit, to craft a wartime love story and a medical anti-war treatise. It succeeds in doing both, in part.

    The unnamed contemporary narrator has just bought and begun to renovate a château on the French-Belgian border. He uncovers a diary hidden behind a high chimney wall. The diary was written by an English surgeon whose life, loves, and losses spanned the first half of the 20th century, and whose destiny it was to serve in both world wars. The château was used as a British field hospital where the surgeon worked during the autumn of 1917 and then later became his home and refuge duringthe interwar period up to the time of his execution by the Germans in 1944.

    Only a minimum suspension of disbelief is required to accept the notion that the diary is also …

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