Although I had seen his name on reading lists and seen some of his books in bookshops, I’d never read anything by Noah Gordon before. I am an avid reader so every time I see other bookworms whose judment I value I ask them for reading tips.
A few weeks ago, at the end of our holidays, I paid a visit to a friend and her husband to say thank you for looking after the cat while we were away and I asked Viviane my usual questions “any good books you have read recently that I should read?”.
She immediately rushed to her room and came back with five or six books. I selected four and went back home. I read The Innocent by Harlan Coben and then The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill and found them entertaining, if not exactly memorable (especially the Harlan Coben).
Last Monday, I decided to start Noah Gordon’s The Physician. This novel relates the story of English boy Robert J. Cole who becomes a barber’s apprentice when his parents die and who decides to travel to Persia after he has met a real doctor who tells him the best medical school is in Ispahan. As Christians were not allowed in Arab schools, Rob joins a group of Jewish travelers and pretends he is a Jew so as to be accepted at the madrasah.
This book is entertaining as well as informative if you like historical novels. I enjoyed the picture of medieval Europe and Persia as well as the glimpse into Jewish life at the time, especially the emphasis on hospitality to all Jews in a hostile world.