Author: Allan Bonsall
Reviewed by Petra Wood
This book is a fictional account of Samuel Hahnemann’s life in the years 1791 to 1821 – the time when Hahnemann was trying to establish homeopathy. As we know (nothing much has changed since!) homeopathy has not been welcomed by all in the medical world. With his book the author focuses very much on Hahnemann’s battle with the pharmaceutical establishment of his time: the apothecaries held the absolute privilege to dispense medicines whereas Hahnemann was dispensing his own – Organon §265.
The author picks out different times and events in Hahnemann’s life and presents them mostly in the form of dialogues between the characters involved. He avoids the potentially tedious accounting of history by jumping to the next event whilst giving clues as to what happened in the meantime. This helps to keep the reader interested throughout.
For those who like some emotion and love stories, there is nothing much to be had in this book. Hahnemann is often described as being angry or upset, but that is about it. No mention of what his dear wife or children thought about their life’s struggles.
Little insight can be gained into Hahnemann’s prescribing. The only remedies mentioned are Belladonna, Mercury, Rhus tox and Bryonia, and even those only in passing. Admittedly the author is not a homeopath but a cured patient, but I would have liked to see more information here.
The author admits adding fictional characters to Hahnemann’s life. However, references to real persons have been adapted to suit the story too. Prince Karl von Schwarzenberg, for example, in the story died 5 weeks after Hahnemann was ordered to stop treatment, whilst in reality, according to Robert Jutte, the prince died within 5 days of the last homeopathic treatment from Hahnemann Whilst the story benefits from this white lie, I do not feel that the history of homeopathy needs to be distorted in this way – the successes speak for themselves!
The author acknowledges Julian Winston’s support in reading the initial manuscript. A few mistakes still crept in, especially in explaining potency. The book is in standard paperback format; the publishers have not acknowledged that this is a reprint of an Australian work first published in 2006, although with this reprint they are ensuring a worldwide distribution
Altogether, I enjoyed reading this book. My concern is that it could easily be taken for a true account of Hahnemann’s life, when it is not.