Reviews for The extraordinary Dr Epstein

‘beautifully woven… so many of the major strands of the 19th century – the Diaspora, cultural conflicts, the certainties of religion in people’s lives and the rise of science’  James LeFanu, Daily Telegraph

‘Susan Lee Kerr’s debut historical novel is more than just a portrait of her extraordinary great grandfather—it’s a story about Europe and America, Christians and Jews, science and superstition, and the impact of immigration, dislocation and modernity on three generations of a gifted but turbulent family. Ephraim Epstein’s journey is geographic, spiritual and psychological, and it takes him—and us—from the 19th century to the 20th in this compelling, surprising and carefully researched narrative.’  — Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend

‘We journey around the world with The Extraordinary Dr. Epstein and witness his fascinating forays into farming, religion, medicine, and academia. Who would have thought that a fictionalized account of a proselytizing physician would keep me coming back for more?’  Ronna Mandel,

Captivating story that is beautifully written By C. B. on February 11, 2016 5 STARS Beautifully written. Captivating true story of an extraordinary man who allowed his heart to lead him on different journeys.

Five stars By LindaD on January 28, 2016 5 STARS Fascinating biography with great historical details.

Should inspire every family historian By Sally Cox on 18 August 2015     4 STARS Susan Lee Kerr’s The Extraordinary Dr Epstein should inspire every family historian who means one day to write about their ancestor. The thought of the research alone makes the mind boggle: the author traces her Jewish great-grandfather’s conversion to Christianity; his moves from Russia to America, then from place to place to place. She tracks his numerous occupations from farmhand, to missionary, to doctor, to university founder. Once she has painstakingly and patiently dug out as many facts as possible, she weaves her findings into a thought-provoking work of ‘faction’ that even non-family members care about. Extraordinary, indeed.

A truly joyful, highly readable novel. Masterful and awesome in equal measure. 5 STARS By diane chandler on 7 September 2015  A superb read about a truly extraordinary man. This beautifully written novel follows the rich and tumultuous life’s journey of Dr Epstein, from his native Belarus, across the ocean to America, back again to Heidelberg and Vienna, and back once more to the USA, where he moves around and changes professions almost relentlessly. In love with his wife, and father to many children, his family life is imagined engagingly by the author. The novel also brings Europe and America of the mid to late 19th century so vividly to life, so that you feel you are strolling arm in arm with Dr Epstein through the public gardens in Heidelberg, or trailing him along a fledgling Broadway, or then taking in the expansive skies of the Mid-West alongside him as he drives his horse and cart to a patient. The imagined is seamlessly interwoven with the facts to create a truly joyful, highly readable story. Masterful and awesome in equal measure.

5 STARS By Stephanie Zia on 23 March 2016 Goodreads. Wow. Fantastic read, takes you right back in time to 19C America. Bringing ancestors to life like this could become a whole new genre. Not many have relations as extraordinary as Dr Epstein though. A Jew who converted to Christianity. The author brings him literally to life and puts his unique academic, medical and Bible studies right out there again. The VERITAS section at the back of the book takes you through, chapter by chapter, showing the precise research background for each scene. Many based on fact: publications, family letters etc.


Kerr’s ideas are inventive, sparkling, and inspiring and she comes up with many useful solutions to commonly encountered problems… The activities suggested are designed to awaken and stimulate a creative writing spirit among students and are suitable for both beginners and more advanced writers… There are tips for those who struggle with issues such as lack of ideas, too many ideas and writer’s block. Kerr leads potential teachers through all stages of the teaching process… Teachers of creative writing will also find advice on strategies for controlling the changing mood of a group and coping with potentially difficult indviduals… primarily addressed to teachers of creative writing, it will also prove useful to students and those who want to improve their individual writing style as the ideas are easy to follow and apply. —  Zuzanna Bartoszewska in Writing in Education, Autumn 2009, the journal of National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE)

a very helpful manual for those involved in creative writing and workshops… great thoroughness and sensitivity… I now feel I am not alone. — Kate Nivison, Women Writers Network News

Lifesaver for creative writing tutors  by Hellymart on 10 May 2010 5 STARS. This inspiring book is jam-packed with writing exercises and full of tips for teaching creative writing. It’s making my class preparation/delivery a cinch and I just wish I’d had it when I started teaching two years ago (when I had to learn by trial and error – and boy, did I make some errors!) … If you teach creative writing – or you’re interested in learning more about the craft of writing as a writer yourself – this book comes highly recommended! 

Thinking of teaching creative writing? If you are, you must buy this book! by ZJ Cookson on 9 April 2013 4 STARS. New to teaching and with no formal qualifications in creative writing, I was thrown into picking up an existing creative writing course mid-term. I so wish I’d had time to read this cover to cover before I stepped into the classroom: then I would have known the pitfalls to avoid (such as assuming students of creative writing might actually spend a little bit of their time reading – silly me!).   This book is indispensable for ideas and exercises for the new creative writing tutor and packed full of practical advice. I’m already using it to prepare my lessons for next term and know that I will be dipping into it for years to come.