The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles


Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Spirit of WantThe year is 1984. Widower, Dr. Luke Osborn works as an eye doctor specializing in retinal surgery for the new Eye Institute. For a new doctor it is a privilege to be apart of mingling with the ultra-rich whose generous donations created this new facility, but Luke feels that he does not belong. He has never possessed that much money or lived twitch extravagance.

Click Here for More Information on The Spirit of Want

This new institute is A. J. MacNeil’s dream project as the institute’s leader. Naturally at this event, his wife, Agnes as well as his grown daughters, Lucy and Elizabeth astute do. Strangely the two daughters are very different. Lucy is a lawyer who is dark, slim, drunk, and angry. Contrastly, Elizabeth, a teacher, is fair colored, a little overweight, sober, and pleasant.

One of his first conversations with Lucy had her complaining about eye surgery, “It’s not just mistakes that piss me off, it’s the coverups.” Would you want to converse with her if you operated on eyes?

At the party, Luke is offered the position of being the director of clinical research. He is hesitant with accepting this position since he views himself as a surgeon, not an administrator.

As he leaves the party, Luke does have a shock. His vehicle is stripped. Tires, wheels, bumpers, mirrors, and radio are all missing. How will he get to his home which is two and a half hours away?

Lucy agrees to drive him home. She is somewhat drunk and drives her expensive sports car erratically and way too fast. They swerve to miss a dog, hit a bump and colliding with a tree. Luke and Lucy looked for whatever caused the bump, but do not find anything.

The next day, a woman’s body is found. She happens to be a judge’s wife. Since she died of blunt trauma. Since the police were not called, the logical conclusion is than Lucy was likely drunk and is being charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Lucy needs Luke to convince the grand jury that she was not intoxicated as she drove to Luke’s. This is how their relationship begins and quickly evolves into the two being married privately be a justice of the peace. Did she marry him for love or to control his testimony? Or is Luke marrying the boss’s daughter for his career advancement?

Luke comes from a family where his father was domineering, his mother was passive and he has five siblings. He is a little skeptical in beginning this relationship since his first wife killed herself. However, he allows Lucy to quickly take the lead in their marriage.

As a lawyer, Lucy is placed on a case of defending a television evangelist of the Apostolic Church of Christ accused of rape of a minor. Hower Bain is on video surveillance of being alone with the girl. How can anyone defend him?

Hower is separated from his wife, son, and daughter. He states that this is because of their faith differences. Could it be that he is unfaithful?

This case requires Lucy to travel and to spend much time away from Luke.
Lucy does become pregnant and gives birth to Jennifer prematurely, weighing less than three pounds. With two highly regarded professional careers, they decide to hire a nanny to care for their daughter.

However, taking care of Hower Bain seems to be more of a time commitment than a newborn. He is demanding, rebellious, establishing his own rules that are not helpful, such as against his lawyer’s advice, giving a five minute television interview. Or is more going on with her commitment to the case?

Luke has his own challenges. Sandra Perez has been dismissed as a fellow. Luke’s colleague, Modesto Sanchez, had been ordered to give her a poor evaluation. Apparently, Sandra had witnessed Luke’s father-in-law, A.J. causing harm to a patient, completely blinding him, by performing surgery on the wrong eye. He believes Sandra. How does anyone confront his boss and father-in-law who demands loyalty, even if he is in the wrong?

The Spirit of Want is an event-driven account of Lucy and Luke. The pace is extremely fast with the book covering several years. A hidden gem within the story is the artwork reflecting the story created by Betty Harper.

Do some people use others only as long as they receive benefit from the relationship? How do you go on whether you are the giver or the taker? Or could each of us be both at the same time or does it depend on each relationship?

As a former ophthalmic surgeon, he understands his topic. This resident of Salt Lake City, Utah has won numerous awards and nominations in the Sandhill Writers Competition, The SEAK Competition, The William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.
Read The Spirit of Want for the answers.