I have just finished reading the book, “The Citadel” by A.J. Cronin. To say that the book was interesting or captivating would be a gross understatement.
It is the story of a young idealistic doctor, Doctor Andrew Manson, who starts his professional journey with only one intention...healing the sick and helping the unhealthy to get better.
However he soon finds out that being a doctor is much more than diagnosing diseases and handing out prescriptions. He has to contend with lazy medical officers, greedy committee members and stubborn people who thwart his every move to improve their condition.
He moves from the small Welsh mining village and finally reaches London where he is sucked into the glamorous world of deceit and avarice; where healing matters less than making money by pampering rich and old hypochondriac ladies, suggesting unnecessary medical treatments for spoiled brats of wealthy tycoons and referring cases to influential doctor friends who do the same for the portion of exorbitant fees charged by them.
Along the way, the protagonist marries a lovely school teacher who gradually becomes unhappy with the way he is seduced into the system he had initially abhorred. Finally, a very tragic and unnecessary death sends Dr Andrew Manson crashing back to earth. He sees the errors of his ways but not before he too has to pay a heavy price for his choices in life.
The best thing about the book is how the readers are made to feel Dr Andrew’s elation on bringing back a new born baby back to life during his early practice days and his utter horror on seeing a patient who depended on his sound medical judgment, lifeless and drenched in his own blood on the operating table during his fashionable London days.
At times the book becomes too wordy but still it is an excellent book and though with lots of medical jargon, it is easily understood with never a dull moment.
Final Verdict: A book that must be read once in a lifetime.
Author: A.J. Cronin