Friday, May 7, 2010

The Serpent and the Staff

I ordered a used book of this work by Frank Yerby and received this large print edition. It took me a while to get used to the style of the letters, but after that, it was okay.

Like other works of Yerby, The Serpent and The Staff is enjoyable to read, although, in my opinion, not as good as An Odor of Sancity, The Saracen Blade, Goat Song, and The Voyage Unplanned. This one is set in New Orleans, spans from 1887 - 1905. The story is built around an orphan named Duncan Childers. Duncan is poor and his best friend is a 'negro'. Duncan is adopted by an old lady because he looks like her late grandson, who, in fact, had the same father as Duncan's. Duncan is given the best of education, and later he goes to Germany to study medicine. He and his 'negro' friend will become 2 best doctors in their hometown. Apart from being one of the most brilliant doctors in America, Duncan is also a wonderful piano player, and torn between the love of 2 women: one is the daughter of a wealthy man who can help him in his career, and the other is a dedicated nurse, who understands his true calling, that he becomes a doctor to cure sick people, not to run after money. The ending is quite gripping, i.e. Duncan and other doctors save Caneville-Sainte Marie from yellow fever epidemy. Also, as Yerby was good in doing research, we can also learn how the medical situation was at that time.

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