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In Chris Bohjalian's fine follow-up to Midwives, individual judgment and the unconventional again clash with the medical and legal forces of tradition. In rural Vermont, two years after his wife's sudden death, an exhausted state's attorney can hope for little but a quiet life with his 4-year-old daughter. Leland Fowler's only goal is a cure for the common cold--his own, that is, which has dragged on for months. As it turns out, his appointment with the town's only homeopath will set to rights his physical and emotional symptoms. At least for a while.
Alas, another of Carissa Lake's patients isn't quite so lucky. Despite her warning that Richard Emmons not go off his prescription drugs, he does exactly that. In fact, during an asthma attack, he takes the homeopathic law of similars--the belief that "like cures like"--to an entirely new level. This tragedy embroils Carissa in an investigation of her practice and forces Leland into a decision that is to alter not only her life but his:
Upstairs, my daughter slept. And for a long time we sat on the floor before the tree, neither of us saying a word, as I worked out in my mind exactly what I would have needed to prosecute this case if a summer cold had not lasted into the fall, and I had not met Carissa Lake. Once I knew, nothing seemed quite so hopeless, and I began to sketch aloud for her exactly what we would want to create in the morning, and exactly what we would want to destroy.Chris Bohjalian is an artist of the small but seismic instant. As this gripping novel proves, he knows all too well the awful daring of a moment's surrender. --Siobhan Carson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
As he proved in last year's Midwives, Bohjalian is adept at examining social and moral issues fraught with ambiguities. Here, again, he focuses on a fallible protagonist whose lapse in ethical judgment is motivated by love and need. Widower Leland Fowler, the chief deputy state's attorney in Burlington, Vt., has been lonely since his wife was killed in an accident two years previously, leaving him to raise his daughter Abby, now four. When traditional methods fail to cure a persistent sore throat caused by stress, he consults homeopath Carissa Lake, receives a remedy that works on the principle of "like cures like" (i.e., using the cause of the illness as the cure)Aand falls desperately in love with Carissa. When another of Carissa's patients misinterprets the law of similars and falls into an allergy-induced coma, Leland realizes that Carissa may be accused of malpractice. Abandoning his judgment and his rectitude, Leland instructs Carissa in fabricating and destroying evidenceAthis while his own office may seek to prosecute her. The consequences are, of course, ineffably sad. Despite his tendency to use foreshadowing with the bluntness of hammer blows, Bohjalian succeeds in escalating tension and communicating the irony of Leland's position. The evocation of domestic routines and the quality of small-town life ring true in beautifully captured details. But despite Bohjalian's evident compassion for decent people who behave irresponsibly in moments of crisis, it may be difficult for readers to accept Leland's unethical behavior, no matter how deep his emotional need. Since credibility is essential in understanding Leland's fall from grace, one finishes the novel wishing that Bohjalian had been able to portray his hero's quandary without so completely betraying Leland's moral principles. Author tour. (Jan.) FYI: Jessica Lange will appear in the ABC TV movie based on Midwives.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The heart of the book is the essential conflict of interest between Leland Fowler and Carissa Lake. Leland is a state prosecutor and Carissa is being accused of a crime. Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2004 by "acoword"
I found the book to be well written but very slow. The story about alternative medicine seemed realistic. Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2003
I was disappointed in this book. I expected it to be as good as Midwives. I found Midwives believable. Read morePublished on June 18 2003 by Angela Lepitre
This was truly a book that I could not put down. It is no literary masterpice, but the author does raise some interesting ideas about homeopathis versus allopathic medicine. Read morePublished on Feb. 2 2003 by Heather Frimmer
The thing I like about Chris Bohjalian is that his stories are so unique. I've never read about homeopathy before, and I found this book very interesting because of that. Read morePublished on May 9 2002 by Theresa W
This is not a guy's boook. The opening is a real downer, which is probably they chose to start the sample pages on page 17. Read morePublished on April 20 2002 by Roger Paulding
As with all of Chris Bohjalian's novels, this one sucked me right in and kept me enthralled the whole way through. I love his use of words. Read morePublished on April 9 2002 by "dannonb"
Even if I could relate to Leland Fowler, I didn't like the fact that he told other people's stories through his own eyes, for example the wife of the guy who slips in a coma. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2002 by "janevaningen"
Leland Fowler is an attorney trying to raise a small daughter after his wife dies in a tragic car accident. Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2002 by Betti Trapp