Not as a Stranger Is Too Much of a Good Thing

Morton Thompson is a fine writer with a keen sense of how plot arises from character. He’s also a master of snappy dialogue and savory description. If only Thompson had stopped sooner, Not As a Stranger would be great reading.

As a boy, Luke Marsh decides medicine will be his life. Luke grubs his way through college. When his father dies suddenly during Luke’s first year of medical school, Luke marries a nurse with a plump bank account so he can push on to become a doctor.

Luke finds most of his colleagues lacking in skill, dedication, or selflessness. He also finds patients are a real nuisance. Luke can’t relate to anyone except on a professional basis.

If Luke is a misfit, his wife, Kristine, is overdue for canonization or psychotherapy. She overlooks Luke’s adultery, excuses his incivility, pays his bills, and lets him use her as a doormat.

Luke and Kristine go on digging their rut deeper until it seems impossible for the story to ever be resolved.

Thompson does finally pull the story to a halt with a device only slightly more credible than a magic wand. But at that point, a fairy godmother would have been welcome.

Not As a Stranger
By Morton Thompson
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1954
696 pages
1954 Bestseller #1

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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