Archive for July 11th, 2011


Dr. Ellen

July 11, 2011

I really don’t know what to say about Dr. Ellen. Except this: if you read Pleasures and Palaces, also by Juliet Wilbor Tompkins, you will not find it to be anything like that.

Structurally, Dr. Ellen is centered around three women: there’s Ellen Roderick, who lost a husband and a child in quick succession, used her period of mourning to study to become a doctor, and then moved into a mountain cabin and set up as a physician for the locals. Then there’s her younger sister, Ruth Chantry, who lives with Ellen, but doesn’t share her ideals or sense of purpose. Ruth is young and vibrant and wants to be around people all the time, and she’s increasingly resentful  about the way Ellen keeps her in isolation. The third woman is Ruth’s friend Christine O’Hara, shallow, easygoing, and flirtatious, who provides Ruth with a brief respite from her exile when she invites her for a visit.

It’s on that visit that Ruth and Philip Amsden meet. Philip is in his thirties, and architect, and not so much stuck-up as aloof. Also, he’s the person the book is about, really. He’s captivated by Ruth’s enthusiasm, and her naive enjoyment of everything, and lets himself be drawn into the various activities Christine has scheduled for Ruth’s amusement. Read the rest of this entry ?