Random Winds begins in the manner of an A. J. Cronin story of a poor boy who becomes a brilliant surgeon.
But nothing I’ve come across in the 20th century’s bestsellers is anything like Belva Plain’s Random Winds.
The liner notes describe the novel as a saga about three generations of doctors, but the story is really about just one of them, Martin Farrell.
There’s the usual faithful wife and alluring temptress, the surgeons clawing for preeminence, the wealth industrialist who comes comes to the rescue with funds for the surgeon’s pet project; those are required in novels about MDs.
Readers see everything in the novel through Martin’s eyes.
Martin is smart, hard-working, principled, essentially decent.
But he also takes everything he sees at face value.
Random Winds is compelling because Martin learns repeatedly that outside the operating room the evidence of his eyes and ears isn’t always true.
It’s not until his daughter, whom he thought would take over his scalpel, chooses a different specialty that Martin realizes what had actually happened in the episodes that were turning points in his life.
Plain’s characters learn and grow so that when they meet after a passage of time they can forgive what they cannot forget.
Random Winds by Belva Plain
Delacorte Press ©1980. 496 p.
1980 bestseller #8. My grade: A
©2019 Linda G. Aragoni