When a British emergency room doctor saves the life a woman who apparently attempted suicide, he is accused of committing a crime and stands trial. Not only is Dr. Matthew Kemble's medical practice at risk, but also his liberty. If he is found guilty of trespassing on a woman's right to die, he could go to jail.
The novel Do No Harm exposes the dangers faced by conscientious doctors in Britain. Dr. Kemble's decision to treat a patient in defiance of her Living Will pits him against English Law, public opinion and his own profession. The legal and personal battles he faces raise many questions about the role of the physician in the modern world, contemporary beliefs about autonomy and human rights, and the increasingly bitter clash of values in twenty-first century Britain.
Set in and around London, the story explores the interrelated stories of a physician facing ruin and imprisonment at the height of his career, his old friend and doggedly determined lawyer, Jonathan Kirkpatrick, and Maria, a passionate, dedicated but intensely lonely young campaigner who while working for the defense proves incapable of staying out of trouble herself.
Fiorella De Maria is an award-winning author. Born in Italy of Maltese parents, she lives in England, where she was educated at Cambridge. Her historical novel Poor Banished Children is about a Maltese woman kidnapped by slave traders in the era of the Barbary pirates.
"A gripping drama of ordinary human beings caught in a web of ethical confusions and moral complexities. It presents to us the razor's edge of conscience in an age dominated by relativism: What can people of good will do when faced with layers of evil in contemporary society, evils that present themselves as rational, legal, even ‘moral'? How do they save life and bring hope to the hopeless- to do no harm, according to the Hippocratic oath? This novel is a biopsy of the sickness of late Western society, and more importantly a sign that we are not abandoned in the midst of it, and that good can triumph against all odds."
- Michael D. O'Brien, author, Father Elijah
Praise for Fiorella de Maria's previous novel, Poor Banished Children
"A soulful, beautifully written, and haunting novel."
- Ron Hansen, New York Times best-selling author, Mariette in Ecstasy
"Catholic writer De Maria deserves a wide audience."
- Publishers Weekly
"A meditation on guilt, innocence, and transcendence that will haunt the reader long after the book is done."
- Mary Eberstadt, author, The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism
"This is serious fiction with prose that is clean, strong, and worthy."
- Thomas Howard, author, Narnia and Beyond
"It's not often that a historical novel comes along that is at once period-appropriate, psychologically plausible - and very, very difficult to put down."
- The Weekly Standard
About Muriel Spark 04/22/2009
The Ignatius Critical Editions 11/25/2008