The King’s Anatomist: The Journey of Andreas Vesalius
by Ron Blumenfeld
Publication Date: October 12, 2021
History Through Fiction LLC
Genre: Historical Fiction
A revolutionary anatomist, a memory-laden journey, and a shocking discovery.
n 1565 Brussels, the reclusive mathematician Jan van den Bossche receives shattering news that his lifelong friend, the renowned and controversial anatomist Andreas Vesalius, has died on the Greek island of Zante returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jan decides to journey to his friend’s grave to offer his last goodbye.
Jan’s sentimental and arduous journey to Greece with his assistant Marcus is marked by shared memories, recalled letters, and inner dialogues with Andreas, all devices to shed light on Andreas’ development as a scientist, physician, and anatomist. But the journey also gradually uncovers a dark side of Andreas even as Jan yearns for the widow of Vesalius, Anne.
When Jan and Marcus finally arrive on Zante, the story takes a major twist as a disturbing mystery unfolds. Jan and Marcus are forced to take a drastic and risky measure that leads to a shocking discovery. On his return home, Jan learns that Andreas was an unknowing pawn in a standoff between King Philip of Spain, his employer, and Venice. When he arrives home in Brussels, he must finally reckon with his feelings for Anne.
A debut novel by Ron Blumenfeld, The King’s Anatomist is a fascinating medical history blended eloquently with meaningful relationships and a riveting mystery. Set within a pivotal time in European history, the story carries readers through some of the most important medical discoveries while engaging them in a deeply personal story of growing older and confronting relationships. A fictional masterpiece with real and relevant historical sources, The King’s Anatomist is as enlightening as it is enjoyable.
“A historical novel with a twist. An old friend of the most famous of all anatomists, Andreas Vesalius, sets out to solve the mystery of his death on a Greek island. What he finds involves a tangle of acquaintances going back to their Brussels childhood and earlier dissections. This lively story combines fine historical detail with a sensitive feel for past personalities.” – VIVIAN NUTTON, HON FRCP, EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
“In his imaginatively woven historical mystery, Ron Blumenfeld explores the life of the pioneering anatomist Andreas Vesalius amidst the turbulence of 16th-century Europe. Readers will enjoy a finely-tuned story infused with doses of Renaissance anatomy and art that highlight the groundbreaking achievements of Andreas Vesalius in these two linked disciplines. Blumenfeld’s erudite adventure leaves the reader with tantalizing speculations.” – PHILIP ELIASOPH, PHD, PROFESSOR OF ART HISTORY & VISUAL CULTURE, FAIRFIELD UNIVERSITY, FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT
“With The King’s Anatomist, Ron Blumenfeld has successfully crafted a story from disparate elements. Descriptions of Renaissance sciences, emerging European cities, and the pre-industrial countryside are intertwined with love gained and lost and the mystery of the death of Andreas Vesalius, the father of modern anatomy. The result is a plot of rich tapestry that leaves the reader panting for the next page, the next vignette along a journey from Brussels to the Greek Island of Zante and along another journey; that from childhood friendship to the grave. As with much fine literature, I was sorry to reach the last page.” – MAYNARD PAUL MAIDMAN, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF HISTORY, YORK UNIVERSITY, CANADA
‘Centered on the mysterious death of the great anatomist Andreas Vesalius, this enjoyable tale is anchored by scholarly literature. The device of a first-person account by an observant but hesitant “best friend” allows for vivid recreation of the many remarkable moments in the anatomist’s life. Relying solidly on social and political history, it convincingly evokes the atmosphere of sixteenth-century Europe. The surprising but plausible ending will surely encourage readers to learn more.” – JACALYN DUFFIN, MD, PHD, PROFESSOR EMERITA, HANNAH CHAIR OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE, QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY, CANADA
The best historical fiction novels, are the ones that encourage you to do a little research. I personally was not familiar with Andreas Vesalius nor with his impact on medicine. After perusing Wikipedia and Britannica, I felt that I had a working knowledge of the man and could finally dive into The King’s Anatomist: The Journey of Andreas Vesalius with a bit more understanding. (It should be noted however, that the author created a story that is easy to understand, even without prior knowledge of the subject matter.)
Now with all that said, oh my holy stars, how is this Ron Blumenfeld’s debut novel? This author takes on a dual timeline, a secondary narrator, a mysterious sub-plot and a man not often written about, and does so seamlessly. Through the words of Vesalius’ friend, Jan van den Bossche, we meet a full cast of characters and travel to some amazing sights. The further that Jan van den Bossche travels, the more apparent it becomes that all is not as it seemed with his anatomist friend. What follows is a journey that is impossible to walk away from. From the incredibly developed characters and beautiful scenery, to the unfolding mystery and fast-paced storyline, this novel is a masterpiece.
Bottom Line: Dive into the life of Andreas Vesalius, and become a forever-fan of Ron Blumenfeld.
About the Author
Ron Blumenfeld is a retired pediatrician and health care executive. Ron grew up in the Bronx, New York in the shadow of Yankee Stadium and studied at City College of New York before receiving his MD degree from the SUNY Downstate Health Sciences Center. After completing his pediatrics residency at the University of Arizona, he and his family settled in Connecticut, but Tucson remains their second home. Upon retirement, he became a columnist for his town’s newspaper, a pleasure he surrendered to concentrate on his debut novel, The King’s Anatomist (October 12, 2021). Ron’s love of books springs from his childhood years spent in an antiquarian book store in Manhattan, where his mother was the only employee. He enjoys a variety of outdoor sports and hiking. He and his wife Selina currently reside in Connecticut and are fortunate to have their son Daniel and granddaughter Gracelynn nearby.
Blog Tour Schedule
Wednesday, October 13
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Friday, October 15
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Tuesday, October 19
Review at Across the Sky in Stars
Wednesday, October 20
Review at Bibliostatic
Friday, October 22
Excerpt at I’m Into Books
Monday, October 25
Review at Up Past My Bedtime
Tuesday, October 26
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy
Thursday, October 28
Guest Post at The Writing Desk
Sunday, October 31
Excerpt at The Cozy Book Blog
Wednesday, November 3
Interview at Jathan & Heather
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