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|Title||:||A Labrador Doctor The Autobiography of Wilfred Thomason Grenfell|
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Number of Pages||:||266 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
A Labrador Doctor The Autobiography of Wilfred Thomason Grenfell Reviews
Much of this book I found a very interesting read, because Sir Wilfred Grenfell describes an era of school education, the practice of medicine, and the pioneering and development of human settlements in a harsh climate; an era which has now completely passed with pharmaceutical discoveries and the technological development of satellite communication over very long distances.Grenfell’s public school education at Marlborough sounded pretty uncompromising, but on the whole, fair. I particularly liked his recollection of the Chemistry (‘stinks’) master’s manner of summons: “Come and be caned, boy. My study, twelve o’clock.” After the appointment had been kept, and the punishment meted out, the master would remark, “Go away, boy. Cake and wine, my room, five o’clock”Grenfell observes that over the longer term it was the second of those two actions which acted to genuinely improve the miscreant’s diligence for schoolwork.In 1883/4, after leaving Marlborough, Grenfell trained in medicine at University College, London, and at the London Hospital. He dammingly comments that at the beginning there was no supervision ”Not one soul cared what you did.” The classes/lectures he describes are positively, to the point of disbelief, anarchic. After that experience it somehow doesn’t come as a surprise to read how in his second year he caught the God bug, which suffused his whole being and impelled his ambition for the rest of his life. That vein may irritate the atheist reader; all I can say is don’t allow it to do so. His third year was spent largely walking the wards of ‘The London’; where he describes sketching live examples of anthrax and leprosy, to fix their appearance in his mind. Like Jennifer Worth’s later experiences recounted in her three books beginning with “Call The Midwife”, Grenfell’s detailed recollections glow with interest to his reader, describing with clarity and self-deprecation as they do a knowledge and practice of medicine which no longer exists.The bulk of “A Labrador Doctor” recounts and describes just that. To my shame I first had to study the maps to fully understand the geographical position: north-west of Newfoundland, across the Strait of Belle Isle (which meets the Gulf of St Lawrence). In my copy of this book there are two extremely helpful annotated maps of the Labrador and of Newfoundland. Grenfell’s text is a pioneering account of growth of settlement, when life was very hard and often short. Though he writes from the vantage of 1932, his memories, and his analysis of those memories from essentially the 1890’s onwards are pin sharp and extremely vividly described (especially those relating to the technology of seafaring in those far-gone days). Most notable, surely, is Chapter 16, “Adrift on a Pan of Ice”; a fearfully gripping account of Grenfell’s remarkable survival resulting from the quirks of the most hostile of elements.Much of the interest and strength of Grenfell’s account of building-up sustainable economic communities on the Labrador lies in the length of the period, some forty-odd years, which he describes. He’s not like some modern-day explorer who spends a few months on a polar expedition, returning home to write the book, be interviewed ad nauseam on TV, and negotiate the Hollywood film rights! OK, yes, I must confess to my attention drifting right at the end of the book, which is a something of a lengthy list of commendations and thank-you’s; but this IS written in an utterly genuine spirit of real gratitude and pride in the achievements of all who worked together for the common good. I reached the last page, sighed, and thought to myself that here was a real and inspirational hero that I could believe in, relate to, and hope to emulate at least in spirit. By comparison modern day ‘heroes’ such as extremely well paid footballers, and film ‘stars’ acting fantasy, pale into an insipid irrelevant insignificance.
Good book. I was surprised how hard the churches were working to get the government to take over their work at that time, whereas now they are lamenting the government role and saying it is usurping the church's role!
Couldn't get into this novel. Left it.