I first heard about Bill Roorbach's new novel, The Remedy for Love,
in the Algonquin booth at BEA last June. I knew even before I held the
book in my hand that it was going to be a winner. Not only did I love
the premise but I have a lot of trust in the editorial team at
Algonquin, which has published some of the most memorable books I've
Almost exactly two years ago today, I wrote about Roorbach's Life among Giants, which I said was about "family, fame, destructive relationships, and misplaced love." Although The Remedy for Love is also about relationships, it takes us in a different direction altogether.
Here are my thoughts in a Bullet Review.
- The setup. On the eve of the so-called snowstorm of the century, Eric, a small-town Maine lawyer, is buying ingredients for a special dinner. In front of him in line is an indigent woman, who is a few dollars short of her bill. Eric offers to pay for her much-needed food, and later, when he notices she's planning to walk home in the cold and snow, he offers her a ride. Home for Danielle is an uninsulated summer cabin a long way down a wooded trail. Eric doesn't ask if she has permission to stay there, but seeing that she's in a bad way, he hangs around long enough to chop some wood and give her all his groceries. By the time he climbs up the trail to his car, the snow has gotten heavy, the roads are deserted, and his car's been towed. Eric returns to the cabin and begs Danielle to let him in out of the cold.
- What happens next? The present day of the novel takes place in the little cabin as two strangers, who initially distrust each other, move through a full range of interactions as the days-long storm beats down on the Maine woods. As they tell their stories, we learn about the past and begin to make predictions of the future.
- But what kind of book is it? Good question. The Remedy for Love is about what happens when two people who would have never normally met are thrown together under dire circumstances. As Eric and Danielle move from mutual unease to getting to know each other to interdependency for survival, they chip away at each other's defenses. As the snow gets deeper and deeper, the couple's secrets become more and more transparent. A fascinating examination of a unique relationship.
- Plotting, pacing, and more. Although Roorbach didn't write a psychological thriller or a twisty mystery, he exquisitely draws out the tension in this novel. Because I don't want to give anything away, let me just say this: Several times I was sure I knew where things were going, and rarely was I right. The snow and cold, Eric's and Danielle's personalities and histories . . . the mix is volatile.
- Extras. As in Roorbach's earlier novel, food plays a big role in The Remedy for Love. I was so impressed with the details of Eric's cooking, including techniques, ingredients, and flavors. Snowbound or not, Eric can come cook for me any ole time.
- Recommendation. Perfect for fans of literary fiction, character studies (though there is action), stories involving mature relationships, and just plain good reading. Eric and Danielle will stick with you for a long time; once they get into your head and heart, I think they're there to stay.
- Audiobook. The unabridged audiobook (Highbridge; 7 hr, 20 min) was read by Jeffrey Kafer. My full, very positive, review will be available through AudioFile magazine, but let me say here that Kafer's pacing, characterizations, and cadence were well matched to the story. Don't hesitate to listen.
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)