The Citadel Is Built of Saccharine and Clichés

The Citadel is a moderately entertaining tale about an idealistic young doctor who almost wrecks his life trying to get rich quick.

Andrew Manson starts his medical practice in a Welch coal-mining village. He quickly realizes his medical training was both inadequate and often blatantly wrong. He also falls in love and weds the village teacher.

Andrew finds medicine has more quacks than skilled professionals. He sees the quacks making money and tries their tactics with great success until one of those quacks botches a simple surgery and lets Andrew’s patient die.

Trained as a doctor, author A. J. Cronin spins his tale with the sureness of someone who knows the field. That knowledge helps conceal the weak plot, though it can’t do anything about Cronin’s ham-fisted foreshadowing.

Also, Cronin is less than adept at developing characters. Cronin tells instead of showing what makes his people tick. It’s not clear, for example, what triggers dramatic Andrew’s plunge into pursuit of wealth.

The Citadel comes off as cliché-ridden and saccharine, but things could be worse. About 20 years later, Morton Thompson will a very similar story, add an ample dose of sex, and turn it into a longer, duller book.

The Citadel
By A. J. Cronin
Grossett & Dunlap, 1938
401 pages
#3 on the 1937 and #2 on the 1938 bestseller lists
My grade: C-
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni
Advertisements

Published by

Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

One thought on “The Citadel Is Built of Saccharine and Clichés”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.