If you want a warm-hearted, family-oriented, feel-good during and after your reading, novel, suffused with puzzles and a pair of minds (Doc and his sister Linda) who just won't quit, then by all means I suggest you take up DOC'S CODICIL by Gary Jones. A subtle story, gently told, this novel commences with the reading of the will of the late veterinarian, with his children and nephew present. Remember, these are all adults, not youngsters. So they should know how to behave and how to act and think. Clearly Doc and his sister Linda think so, as did their own parents. Doc's estate is fairly substantial, although not in the billionaire category so desired today; but among seven heirs, not as much. Especially if these heirs quibble and complain. Instead of a straightforward "I bequeath," Doc set the codicil up so that they all have to think and ponder, and especially, they all have to work as a team to puzzle it out.
I reviewed a digital copy generously provided by the author at no cost, obligation, or remuneration. i opted to review this title.
To anyone who has had an unspoken dream to create or accomplish something that seems too chancey or likely to fail, Doc’s Codicil is a wonderfully relatable book in which personal insecurities and lack of courage battle with opening oneself up to the possibility of failure and realizing a dream. The novel offers readers a story of fun mystery with riddles and clues, a late-blooming coming of age story, and a life lesson that most of us could benefit from regardless of whether we are 20 or 70 years old. In short, it is a thoroughly charming and enjoyable read that will change the way you consider your life choices, and may even make you face your inner “Doofus.”
We all can manifest a Doofus if we allow ourselves to be imaginative and hopeful. The Doofus character anchors the book by appearing in both plot time frames and affecting character actions. Initially Doofus is a sort of Ghost of Bad Advice past, present, and future. He is behind the mystery that Doc’s heirs (his adult children and their cousin) must solve by acting upon the directive to “take Doofus squirrel fishing.” Both plots/time frames neatly twine to build the overall theme and advance our understanding.
The first plot is set in 2014 and involves the heirs’ attempts to solve the mystery in Doc’s codicil while trying to live their own lives. Doc's manuscript is the second plot, set in winter 1987-88, and involves Doc’s first meeting Doofus during a troubled time when he is trying to meet the needs of his family, his dairy animal veteran practice, and his desire to go into research. He doesn’t feel he is living up to anyone’s expectations, including his own. Enter Doofus to play upon Doc’s fears and spur him into action. The problem is that Doc has evidence that Doofus’ “help” to others has led to some hysterical but disastrous results. Without giving away too much plot, Doofus’ help with a Nativity Pageant leads to the Jesus character being lowered into the scene via a crane and bungee cord, resulting in the second through eighth coming of Christ on stage. Over time, Doc is able to understand what he needs to do: open up to risk and the possibility of failure. Given how long it took him to learn this lesson and find real satisfaction in life causes him to write the codicil for his family.
One subtle goal of the codicil is for his children and future generations to commit to the family and remain close, even when economics require that the offshoots be spread across the country. This is a real issue for many of us. Jobs and economics have fractured our familial support system and all but destroyed the joyous intimacy of shared history and companionship unique to family members. The codicil openly advises the heirs, and by extension the reader, to “laugh and sing, loudly and often. Be kind to others, help your fellow man, love those close to you, study for the sheer joy of learning, seek out difficult tasks, and go at them. Do not fear failure; it happens.” The intertwined plots show us how it can be done, not easily, but it can be done. In the end, materialism via the inheritance takes a back seat to the shared experience of trying to make sense of the codicil and re-evaluating what makes one truly happy. Listening to our inner Doofus may be scary but worth the risk. The book is not tediously moralistic. The author builds an engaging plot, while the reader builds a belief in dreams.
If you are looking for something humorous, with a touch of sweetness, kindness and love, then this is your winter read. It was one that I found fun to cuddle up, on a cold day (not to mention our oil had run out, so it was deathly cold) and really have a good laugh. It is the kind of read that can warm your heart and really make you enjoy all the subtle things in life.
As we travel through the life and times of the good vet, we come to find out that there is so much more to him than his family gave him credit for and that he wasn’t senile when he set the task for acquiring his fortune. In fact, he was likely the most sane of the lot, as he taught them so much about life and themselves, from beyond the grave.
I liked the light-hearted nature this read took, from soft topics right through to some that are hard for many to approach. Hidden under the doc’s rules and memoirs, this book has a great message, and one portrayed in an excellent way.
I truly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to recommending it to friends and even gifting it to a few, for a good holiday read.
**I received this book for free and voluntarily provided my honest and unbiased review.