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I was surfing the web today (okay, I was reading political stuff. I’m addicted), when I saw a picture of two men reading a book. The cover of the book was familiar, and I zoomed in to see that they were reading one of the best friends a novelist could own: Where There is No Doctor. It’s a great book for anyone, actually.

Around 1990, I was working on my second novel, then titled Canopy. Definitely not a super title, but so much better than the one the publisher forced on me, Lovers and Strangers, which had nothing whatsoever to do with the story. Canopy/Lovers and Strangers was about a group of primatologists and their significant others who get stranded in the Amazon when their guide disappears. I can’t begin to describe all the research I put into this book! I read everything I could find on the Amazon and on the little monkeys in my story. I went way overboard as I learned what research is important and what should simply be discarded (the dung beetles, for example). But as I was doing my research, I stumbled across this gem of a book.

Where There is No Doctor was published in the seventies (revised many times by now)  for health workers, teachers, and just plain folk living primarily in Third World Countries. It’s exactly what it says it is–information for the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of injuries and illnesses that occur where there is no doctor. I relied on it heavily as I made my characters suffer in the Amazon, and have turned to it with other characters’ maladies throughout the years.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I turned to it with my own infirmities as well (before Google made life a lot easier.) I didn’t need to worry much about blood flukes or tapeworm, it’s true, but the information on treating infected wounds or toothaches was invaluable.

It may be that the Internet has, for those of us living and writing in a developed country, made this book obsolete, but I’d like to think not. It’s had a permanent place on my bookshelf for eighteen years, and I think I’m going to keep it there.

9 Comments

  1. Margo on October 27, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Diane, this book would probably have been invaluable to me these past 10 days!…as it turned out I needed my professional dr to help me get well but this book looks like something I’d like to have on my bookshelf…thx for sharing. P.S. it’s so good to be back!

  2. Denise on October 27, 2008 at 10:22 am

    That sounds like a really interestinig and helpful book!

  3. Diane Chamberlain on October 27, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Margo, I’m so glad to see you back among the living!

  4. Margo on October 27, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Thx Diane!…I’ve really missed everyone. While I was home I watched many movies but there’s 1 in particular I wanted to mention which was wonderful…AUGUST RUSH captured my heart and I recommend it to anyone who loves music and believes in miracles. (-:

  5. Denise on October 27, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Good to see you back, Margo!! I’ve never seen that movie; sounds like something I would like.
    I wonder what “Where There’s No Doctor” says about sinus problems. Lol I’m suffering this time of year!

  6. Margo on October 27, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    It’s so nice to talk to you Denise!…my good friend Laura told me about AUGUST RUSH and while I was off it was playing on HBO so I caught it twice!…loved, loved, loved it!…the little boy will steal your heart and the music is beautiful. I hear you with sinus problems…not only was I down with the stomach flu but also had hayfever and sinus all at the same time…haven’t been this sick since I was 14 years old so it’s a shock when it all grabs you at once…get well with those sinus’s Denise.

  7. Malcolm R. Campbell on October 28, 2008 at 10:22 am

    What a great book. Sure, the Internet may make it easy to look stuff up, but chances are good that if one’s out in the middle of nowhere needing a doctor, there probably isn’t going to be a WiFi connection there either. I’d keep the book around, too.
    Malcolm

  8. asha on July 9, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    I am close to having read all of your novels (which I totally love and am addicted to) – but having a hard time finding Lovers and Strangers. Would also love to have a brief synopsis of the story??? Can you help???
    thanks so much!

  9. Diane Chamberlain on July 9, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Asha,
    Lovers and Strangers is just about impossible to find. I only have one copy myself. It’s the story of a group of primatologists who get stranded in the Amazon. One of them is there with her husband, whom she blames for the death of their daughter. It’s the story of their breaking apart and coming together again.
    Thanks for being a faithful reader,
    Diane

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