Doc by Mary Doria Russell
“Doc” by Mary Doria Russell is the story of twenty-six year old Georgia gentleman John Henry Holliday who arrives in Dodge City, Kansas in 1878 with his lady friend, Kate Harony. John Henry sets up a dental practice and earns some fast money gambling. But Doc Holliday is dying of consumption, the same disease that slowly killed his mother when he was fifteen.
|Doc by Mary Doria Russell opens with paragraph “He began to die when he was 21, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle. The disease took fifteen years to hollow out his lungs so completely they could no longer keep him alive. In all that time, he was allowed a single season of something like happiness.” Young dentist John Henry Holliday was an educated Southern gentleman. He knew well the condition that slowly killed his mother, that was slowly killing him. He knew his prognosis. Doc, as he later came to be known, left Georgia for the drier climate of Texas and eventually moved on to Dodge City, Kansas as his girlfriend Kate Harony’s insistence. The year is 1878. Doc is 26 years old.|
Book Club Party Ideas for Doc
Invitations and Decorations
|Invitations for your books club party can be homemade by using a heavy text paper and making your own cute western shaped template: stars for sheriff badges, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, spurs, horses, or horseshoes. If you don’t want to do-it-yourself, check out these adorable retro party invitations available at amazon.com.
Decorate your table with red and white, or blue and white checkered tablecloths, lassos, wild flowers in mason jars, and bandannas. You can even purchase some weathered or antique looking paper and make a batch of wanted posters featuring your guests.
Western-themed party decorations to purchase can be found at Amazon.com
Pull out the cowboy boots and stetsons, vests, denim, and bandanas. If you want to wear some western bling, anything with rhinestones works.
Home On The Range by the legendary Roy Rogers is available in mp3 download. This mp3 album contains great ol’ Western music including some of my favorites: Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Don’t Fence Me In, and Home On The Range the official song of the State of Kansas.
Book Club Menu for Doc by Mary Doria Russell
My Doc book club menu is inspired by Johnny’s funeral wake.
Father Alexander von Angensperg’s invitation to the wake read: On occasion, a good Kentucky bourbon may be considered therapeutic. If you’d rather not drink alone, please join the friends of John Horse Sanders at Demonico’s, 7 P.M. — J. H. Holliday
Father Alexander was impressed by Delmonico’s menu. Kate recommended the Pork Tenderloin, Doc’s favorite, and the Cabbage Strudel. Also, included on the menu were Potato Dumplings and Neapolitan Cake.
My Neapolitan Cake isn’t quite the type of Neapolitan Cake offered on the 1880′s Delmonico menu; so, if you are looking for a more traditional recipe, check at this scrumptious recipe at SmittenKitchen.com.
Serve root beer, sasparilla soda, or lemonade for non-alcoholic refreshment; and brandy and Kentucky bourbon for fire water.
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 4.08 stars (697 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4.4 stars (85 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 4.24 stars (37 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4.5 stars The mythic Doc Holliday, the Earp brothers, and other Dodge City legends come to life in this Wild West romp. Mary Doria Russell does a fantastic job delving into the complexities of these men and their women. I’m not a huge fan of westerns (I O.D.’d on Louis L’Amour as a kid) but I was very curious about Mary Doria Russell writing a western, which is not her usual genre. I am so glad that curiosity led me to Doc, a meticulously researched, delicious read! I loved it!|
- Did you come away with a different impression of Doc Holliday and/or the Wild West Dodge City of the 1800′s after reading this novel? Explain.
- This novel is set before the infamous shooting at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona that created the legend of Doc Holliday and the Earp Brothers. In what ways do you feel that Doc allow us to know the man, rather than the legends? How does this novel set the stage for what followed in Tombstone?
- Discuss Doc Holliday’s relationship with the often volatile Kate Harony. Upon learning more about Kate’s youth, did you feel more or less sympathetic toward her?
- There are so many wonderful characters in the this novel, but try to pick one that surprised you in some way, or that you cared about the most. Explain why.
Purchase Doc at your favorite bookseller
|Mary Doria Russell was born in Chicago in 1950. She studied Cultural Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Social Anthropology at Northeastern University/Boston, and Biological Anthropology at the University of Michigan.
Mary Doria Russell has been married to Don Russell since 1970 and they have one son, Dan, born in 1985.
The works of Mary Doria Russell have received innumerable awards and recognition. View Reviews, Awards, Honors at marydoriarussell.net
Other Works by Mary Doria Russell
Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…
Here is an interesting question posed on Mary Doria Russell’s blog:
Did Doc Holliday really fix Wyatt Earp’s teeth? Find the answer here.
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