While under the care of her pulmonologist after a life-threatening asthma attack, Heather Morrison enters into an affair with her doctor. This affair violates the state’s code of conduct and his medical treatment violates the Hippocratic oath. Heather’s life is shattered as a result. After the doctor terminates the relationship, Heather begins research for her own healing, and armed with this information, she initiates a civil lawsuit. Although it is a work of fiction, A Medical Affair was extensively researched. A Medical Affair is a critical book for women who want to make educated decisions regarding their relationships with their doctors.
**PLEASE NOTE: This review contains spoilers and my opinion!!**
In my pre-blogging/reviewing days, I would have been able to walk away from a book like A Medical Affair with my thoughts and feelings about the read remaining mine and mine alone. But now, I am a blogger and a reviewer and feel, absolutely that it is my responsibility to provide my followers with as honest an opinion as I can provide. So, here it is: I have struggled significantly with this read and my accompanying review and have, on several occasions considered backing out of this review.
A Medical Affair is a work of fiction and though it is based on extensive research, I will approach my review on the work of fiction and nothing else. Here goes: Heather Morrison is a single woman, unattached, intelligent, good at her job and, in the process of adopting a beautiful little girl. Heather has accepted that a more traditional family is not in her future but adoption will accomplish her goals and fill a void she has long felt in her life. With a few good friends by her side and supporting her fully, Heather has spent months filling out paperwork, being interviewed and, arranging her life to accommodate the arrival of her daughter. To this end, Heather has left her long-time roommate and best friend to move into a beautiful apartment that will provide more space and more comfort for her child. Everything in Heather’s world seems to finally be falling into place and then she has a life-threatening asthma attack that lands her in the ER. Enter Dr. Jeffrey H. Davis.
Heather’s night in the ER is beyond scary and when Dr. Davis enters the picture, calms her down and, helps relieve the symptoms of the asthma attack, Heather is both relieved and grateful for his help. It just so happens that Dr. Davis is a pulmonologist and he asks Heather to make a follow-up appointment with his practice so he can continue to monitor her asthma. For Heather, this all seems perfectly logical and completely reasonable and she complies with her doctor’s orders and makes a follow-up appointment. Little does she know, Dr. Davis is a predator and his motives for seeing her again have little to nothing to do with her health.
The affair between Heather and Dr. Davis begins almost immediately with the good doctor always being very attentive and digging constantly for more and more information about Heather and her life. With every detail she divulges, Dr. Davis adds it to his arsenal of control. Further, each and every time Heather mentions the slightest symptom, Dr. Davis is there to write her a prescription to alleviate the symptoms. It doesn’t take long for Heather to become completely consumed by the affair and willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order to please the doctor. This seemingly intelligent woman takes up smoking again because the doctor does (ironic that he’s a pulmonologist!), she begins taking prescription medications that she normally would have never taken, she accepts all of the doctor’s lousy excuses for not being able to see her, she engages in unsafe sexual activity and situations that constantly make her uneasy and, when she tries to discuss her concerns or misgivings with her lover, he dismisses her and Heather accepts it. In the quiet moments when she is alone and has time to question her actions and involvement with the doctor, Heather simply takes more of the medication he has given her to quiet the thoughts. When her dear friends try to intervene and tell Heather the situation she is in is toxic, she ignores their advice.
As you might expect, the affair eventually comes to a dramatic and ugly end. For Dr. Davis, Heather is simply one more notch on his bedpost but for Heather, her life is completely destroyed to the tune of losing her job, losing her opportunity to bring home her adopted daughter and, very nearly losing her life yet again following a botched suicide attempt. Though Dr. Davis is found out by his wife and his colleagues, he is generally unconcerned by the damage he has done, the hurt he has caused and, the ethical codes he has broken. With few sanctions and/or consequences for his actions, Dr. Davis easily moves beyond Heather and toward his next victim.
The Bottom Line: I had a very, very hard time simply understanding this read and Heather in particular. In fact, this read made me angry. Though we discover Heather has some serious issues from her past (and I am not discounting those issues at all!) that need to be dealt with, those issues alone don’t entirely explain, at least for me, how she ends up so completely taken in by Dr. Davis. Yes, he is handsome and charismatic but Heather is a smart woman who has managed to build a good life for herself and is in the process of creating a beautiful family. Yet, in a relatively small amount of time, she gives up absolutely everything she has worked for to please a man who treats her like sh*t. Certainly I was angry at the doctor for his very nature and presence but I also found myself quite angry at Heather for ignoring her basic instincts and intuitions about the situation she was in. She doesn’t just ignore her feelings but abandons everything she believes in. I also found myself being angry at her for ignoring her longtime friends in favor of a man she barely knows and who clearly has nothing but ill intentions. It wasn’t until the very end of the read that I found myself rooting for Heather and sincerely hoping she would be courageous enough to follow through with the charges she files again Dr. Davis. If ever there was a character who deserves to rot in Hell . . . .
To say that I didn’t like this read isn’t really a fair to the author as there is no fault on the part of the author for my dislike of this book. In fact, the author’s writing style, research and, plot were just fine. My dislike lies solely with the characters and their actions or, lack thereof. Heather’s life is like a train wreck just waiting to happen and the catalyst for that wreck is Dr. Jeffrey Davis. In this way, my great dislike is a compliment to the author and her ability to create such real characters – characters that elicited very strong emotions. To that end, if you are a reader who likes very emotional, very damaged characters and a plot that is both interesting and incredibly disturbing then A Medical Affair is the read for you. Sadly, as it turns out, it just wasn’t a read for me 😦
Anne McCarthy Strauss is a versatile writer, researcher and public relations professional. She is also an avid supporter of victims’ rights. She has spent the last decade educating women and men on the seldom revealed but all too frequent occurrence of affairs between doctors and their patients. Her novel, A Medical Affair, is the story of a doctor who violates a sacred trust by having an affair with one of his patients.
A lifelong New Yorker, Anne lives on Long Island with her husband and their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. The mother of one son, she has written for both consumer and trade magazines including Old House Journal, Waterfront Home & Design, Design Trade Magazine, Design New England, Distinction, Log Home Design Ideas and Florida Design Review. She has been a regular contributor to Martha’s Vineyard Magazine and Vineyard Style. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA).
Visit her at www.annestrauss.com
**Author information found on Goodreads**