Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review: Quality of Care

Whenever I go away I try to bring along books from my own coffers, rather than carrying library materials, on the off chance they might get lost. Moreover, as I was contemplating my time at CBLI, I wanted to bring books that were small enough to fit easily in my bag and not take up too much space. I brought along two books, but the first one, The Road from Coorain, proved too heady to hold my interest while at camp (full of pages and pages of descriptions of Australian countryside). Thankfully, this second one, Quality of Care by Elizabeth Letts, managed to hold my attention and would be sure to appeal to anyone who loves horses.

Clara Raymond is a dedicated obstetrician who insists on providing the best possible quality of care for her patients. When a pregnant woman turns up one night, events are triggered that will test Clara's perspective and self-assessment. That woman is Lydia Benson, a former friend who once saved her life. She arrives on the arm of her husband, Gordon Robinson, a man Clara once loved. Given their shared histories, one would expect this to be a fortuitous night, but instead, when things go wrong, Clara flees and attempts to confront many demons from her past.

Of course, given that I was reading this book in the midst of a course on God's sovereignty, I couldn't help but smile at the author's attempt to handle the grand ideas of fate and chance. At one point, the narrator observes that Gordon was the one "who tried so hard to teach me to accept the fact that there doesn't have to be a reason, that sometimes bad things just happen." Moreover, another doctor remarks to Clara, "Every day, I show up to work and I try to do the best I can. Just one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, you do what you can and it doesn't turn out to be enough. I feel quite sure in the end that the balance [of harm to good] is in my favor.... If you show up every day with your game clothes on, you may win some and you may lose some, but I'm pretty sure you're right with yourself and with the patients - right enough with God, the way I reckon it."

Clara struggles with her part in the fate of Lydia's life and Lydia's part in the fate of her own life. In the end, she sides with her colleague's assessment of her responsibilities. She concludes, "So I pray - little accidental prayers that are just small blossoms of my inherent hope for goodness. Watch out for the little one - watch out for the ones who are small and need assistance, and are defenseless. Please protect those who cannot protect themselves. And me? I just get up every morning and put my shoes on, and try to do the very best I can that day, and every other single day that follows." While it wasn't a book that affirmed by belief in God, it was a well-written debut novel that held my attention and furthered my thoughts about personal responsibility and God's hand.

No comments: