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Book Review: Magnificent Obsession

Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas (4 star review)

Magnificent Obsession

written by Lloyd C. Douglas

434 pages // published in 1929 // religious classic literature


When Robert Merrick's life is saved at the expense of the life of an eccentric but adored surgeon, the carefree playboy is forced to reevaluate his own path. Merrick embarks on a course of anonymous philanthropy, inspired by reading the doctor's private papers. An engaging and dramatic story of personal redemption and private sacrifice, this spiritual tale has served as an inspiration for both the stage and screen.

My Review

4 Star Rating

A wonderful, thought-provoking book. Makes a fantastic read in November/December around the holidays. Part of the storyline takes place around that time on the calendar. Due to the nature of the story, it's a very giving book, providing the reader with such good principles on living a well-spent life... So the "giving" themes presented run true at Christmastime even moreso than usual, maybe even placing you directly in Dr. Hudson's footsteps, just like it does young Bobby Merrick.

What the story boils down to is a non-believer of religion finding God by scientifically executing generosity, and through that, learning to feel empathy for others' plights. After young, spoiled Bobby Merrick finally catches sight of the meaning behind abundant living, he glimpses the shining light of glory ahead, and chases it down with all his might. He ends up making discoveries about life that he never thought possible before. He espies a legacy that is worth duplicating as his own... and maybe we all should too.

The book just gleams with the polish of a master storyteller. No doubt about it. As the chapters flew by for me, I could just feel the intensity of the tale smoldering right off the copy in my hand. There's many layers to the plot too, which is why it feels eternally intense, abysmally deep.

Note to the discerning reader: There is mild swearing and saying God's name in vain; due to the frequency of this, I have to drop a star off my rating, regretfully.

Personally, for me? I don't quite agree with all the religious type of logic illustrated in the story... it's not always clearly shown as following Christ. Instead the acts of kindness portrayed are referred to as "expanding one's personality" (it is better to give than to receive)... but it's still inspirational, nonetheless, and was written in an effort to reach the harvest fields of the world.

Overall? I rejoice in the fact that I got to read Magnificent Obsession at this point in my life. It's one to remember and reflect upon. (Plus, I think I need to go re-watch the old film version of it again. I remember just loving it as well.)


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This is book #12 for me in the Back to the Classics 2018 challenge.
[CATEGORY: New-To-You Author]

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  1. I read that book long ago and it sounds like one I would enjoy reading again.

  2. Interesting - has the book dated much??

    1. Hmmm. Actually, Carole, it hasn't dated by that much. It is, of course, a vintage book, but there's not too much in it (maybe just a vague medical phrase or procedure that's mentioned...), but really not much that dates it. And everything in the moral lesson of it definitely still stands true today!

  3. I thought I'd read this ages ago but your description doesn't ring a bell - I think I might have mixed it up with a book by Taylor Caldwell but I can't remember the name of it!