I recently finished reading The Physician by Noah Gordon. It was published in 1986, so it is not a new book, but it is a great find for anyone who would be interested in reading it. The story follows the life of Robert J. Cole, an orphaned boy in 11th century England. Young Robert travels through England as an apprentice to a lusty barber-surgeon, which leads him to discover he has a natural gift for the art of healing. Later he travels to Persia to study medicine under the great historical physician Avicenna. In order to study in the Islamic academy where Avicenna teaches, however, he must hide his Christianity. So he poses as a Jew, a task which proves to be a great challenge.
This historical fiction is one of the best novels I have read. It is filled with adventure and romance. Noah Gordon holds the reader under his magical spell as he leads us from Old England, across 11th century Europe, to the mystical Middle East where both grave danger and the opportunity for scholarly wisdom intermingle, and back again.
I grabbed this book at the library one day while I was in a hurry. I had not heard of the title or the author before. It turned out to be a gem. Aside from telling a captivating story, Noah Gordon also utilizes a bare honesty in describing the personal struggles of his characters. Give it a chance. You will not regret it.