Writing from Life

The extraordinary Ephraim Epstein is pleased, nay astonished, to have the writing of his life story discussed in Chiswick, London on Tuesday 15 March 2016, 6.30 – 8 pm. Great granddaughter-author Susan Lee Kerr joins local author Diane Chandler (The Road to Donetsk) to converse about putting fascinating ancestors and fantastic life experiences into a novel. Do come along.

12 Turnham Green Terrace, London W4 1QP

12 Turnham Green Terrace, London W4 1QP

Two hundred students filled the stands …

…looking down at the revolving wooden operating table beneath the skylight high above, the patient already lying under white sheets; Ephraim and Burns adjusted their sightlines from the sixth tier. What would the surgery be?Laennec auscultating a TB patient, Paris, after T.Chartran wellcome.ac.uk

The buzz of speculation quieted as Dr Wood entered, his black silk gown fastened tightly at neck and wrist — modestly black, as he had no need to display its evidence of previous operations, unlike boastful surgeons so proud of their blood-stiffened whites. His house surgeon followed, wearing an everyday suit, its left buttonhole dangling a dozen or so waxed ligatures ready for service.

In Chapter 13 Ephraim continues and completes his three-year medical course, with training practice at Bellevue Hospital in New York, 1858-59. The surgery demo scene (thankfully not pictured above!) is historically true, as is Dr James Rushmore Wood (1813-1882). Medicine had a long way to go and Ephraim grows with it. But for now, the 29-year-old has to wait to learn what destiny his sponsors plan for him. My thanks for medical history and the image to the Wellcome Library. In 1860, a year after Ephraim’s graduation, the college changed its name to Columbia Medical School

‘Do you dare?’

‘You don’t — you’re afraid!’ Benjamin crowed.

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‘You think my faith cannot hold its own? My intellect?’ Anger made Ephraim’s voice harsh, and then ironic. ‘I dare say I can emerge from a Christian service unscathed.’ The way was wider here and they easily walked abreast, thumping their improvised walking sticks, walking fast in the competitiveness of friends. He told Benjamin another road story from the Shermans’ Bible. And so they made a bet. On the next day, which was Sunday, if they found themselves in sight of a church, they would attend it.

Curiosity, challenge… the two Jewish friends on a summer break in New Jersey, 1851, egg each other on. In Chapter 9, The Road to Metuchen, they have an encounter that will change their lives forever.