Tom Bedlam

George Hagen, Author . Random $24.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6222-5

Hagen (The Laments ) rolls out the entertaining epic tale of the personable protagonist Tom Bedlam, beginning in Victorian London and ending in post-WWI South Africa. Along the way, Tom survives a rowdy boarding school, studies medicine in Scotland (where he changes his name to the more proper-sounding Tom Chapel), elopes to South Africa with his professor's daughter and fathers three daughters and a son. Tom is recruited as a battlefield surgeon during the Boer War, but the novel slows dramatically once the war is over and he settles with his family in the Johannesburg suburbs. His steady life as a surgeon and doting father dominates the story until WWI draws pacifist Tom back to London on urgent business. Tom's trip to wartime England satisfyingly rekindles the story's momentum, aided by plot twists that require the suspension of disbelief. Realistic period detail adds texture to the humor that frequently counters Tom's personal tragedies and sometimes dour outlook. Hagen's prose is surefooted, regardless of which continent, ocean or war his characters encounter. A few lulls pockmark this hefty book, but Tom is a sturdy protagonist and a magnificent relic from a world far gone. (June)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-8129-7219-1
Open Ebook - 342 pages - 978-0-307-54816-0
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-340-75206-7
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-340-75207-4
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