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The Law of Similars: A Novel Paperback – Mar 14 2000


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Gifts For Dad




Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (March 14 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679771476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679771470
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #628,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

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.

From Publishers Weekly

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.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By A Customer on March 8 2004
Format: Paperback
This was my first reading of a Bohjalian book and I will definitely read others. It was a compelling, discomforting, frightening, and very readable book.
I feel that most of the other reviewers missed the essence of this book: how people swept up by their passions can and do violate their most deeply held moral convictions to protect themselves and the ones they love during times of stress. Leland and Carissa represent two very grounded, moral characters who find each other and become passionately involved. When Leland feels Carissa may be threatened, he compromises his own knowledge of what is right because of how he feels for her. As he proceeds down this path, he comes to believe (and convinces Carissa) that the ends justify the means. Leland comes to learn that he can live with himself and what he has done. Carissa learns that she cannot.
I found Bohjalian's protrayal of characters swept up in passions to be entirely realistic. I see this happen every day in real life. Anyone who does not, just isn't looking. It's shocking to realize that people we care about, even look up to, are capable of behavior they would ordinarily excoriate in others. People are very complex and rarely one dimensional.
Like other reviews, I found Leland sympathetic in the beginning, but reprehensible by the end. He is a mix of the most admirable (good father, community member) and morally corrupt (self-serving rationalization) features of humanity.
I liked Bohjalian's style. While I did not find Leland to be ultimately heroic, I liked the way his character was developed by Bohjalian.
I will recommend this book to others.
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By A Customer on March 8 2004
Format: Paperback
This was my first reading of a Bohjalian book and I will definitely read others. It was a compelling, discomforting, frightening, and very readable book.
I feel that most of the other reviewers missed the essence of this book: how people swept up by their passions can and do violate their most deeply held moral convictions to protect themselves and the ones they love during times of stress. Leland and Carissa represent two very grounded, moral characters who find each other and become passionately involved. When Leland feels Carissa may be threatened, he compromises his own knowledge of what is right because of how he feels for her. As he proceeds down this path, he comes to believe (and convinces Carissa) that the ends justify the means. Leland comes to learn that he can live with himself and what he has done. Carissa learns that she cannot.
I found Bohjalian's protrayal of characters swept up in passions to be entirely realistic. I see this happen every day in real life. Anyone who does not, just isn't looking. It's shocking to realize that people we care about, even look up to, are capable of behavior they would ordinarily excoriate in others. People are very complex and rarely one dimensional.
Like other reviews, I found Leland sympathetic in the beginning, but reprehensible by the end. He is a mix of the most admirable (good father, community member) and morally corrupt (self-serving rationalization) features of humanity.
I liked Bohjalian's style. While I did not find Leland to be ultimately heroic, I liked the way his character was developed by Bohjalian.
I will recommend this bood to others.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
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Format: Paperback
"The good physician will be pleased when he can enliven and keep from ennui the mind of a patient" Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, The Chronic Diseases, 1839.
The same could be said for a good writer and his reader. Grabbed by the first paragraph, this book enlivened me until the final word. Another book about alternative medicine, set in rural Vermont, with realistic and sympathetic characters. Bohjalian has accomplished the impossible by taking a setting so similar to a previous book and creating a story equally compelling. The similarities end with the setting. The protagonist in this novel is Leland, a 35 year old widower, struggling for normalcy with a busy job as a prosecuting attorney, and a much loved toddler to be raised. He only ignores himself and his own well being, and the result is a chronic sore throat. A sore throat that epitomizes his life---a sore tired reminder of what his life once was. Desperate to eliminate throat lozenges from his life, he visits the local homeopath. He is immediately smitten as he senses a lost part of his life reawaken.
Leland is a very straight laced conservative intellectual, who is almost laughing at himself for trying homeopathy. But when it works, and the sore throat goes away, he begins to see the possibilities for the rest of his life as well. There is potential for once-forgotten happiness with Carissa. But when she is accused by the family of a comatose asthma patient of giving him harmful advice, Leland puts himself into the middle of a gynormous ethical conundrum. In trying to do the right thing, will he lose the one thing he was trying to save?
The characters in this story are honest, realistic, and sympathetic.
Read more ›
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By Lawyeraau TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 13 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a very well written book, though a little disconcerting in its thematic similarity to the author's previous novel, "Midwives", which is the superior of the two. Yet again, the medical and legal professions are in some conflict, and it makes for some interesting, though questionable, moral choices.
Here, a widowed prosecuting attorney, Leland Fowler, the single parent of a young child, is living in a rural town in Vermont. Not having felt well for months, he visits the town's resident homeopath and finds himself feeling better, both physically and emotionally, because the homeopath, Clarissa Lake, is just what the doctor ordered.
Shortly after Clarissa and Leland connect, a patient of hers goes into anaphylactic shock, digresses into a coma and dies, ostensibly after eating cashews to which he was allergic, after a casual conversation with Clarissa and a belief in the homeopathic law of similars that like cures like. Leland, emotionally involved with Clarissa, becomes embroiled in a covert attempt to shield her from the legal repercussions that he knows could follow such a tragedy, even though it might not have been entirely of her making. It is here that the book unravels a bit.
This ethical digression on the part of Leland is somewhat difficult to believe, as he had had a very brief relationship with Clarissa. It is almost inconceivable that he would chance losing his entire professional future and the security which his profession provides his small daughter to engage in a major ethical breach. A breach so serious, that were it to come to light, would almost certainly result in his probable disbarrment from the practice of law. Needless to say, this decision by him ultimately affects their relationship in a way not foreseen by Leland.
Nonetheless, the book is somewhat absorbing and well worth reading.
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