03 November 2014

Review: The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach

The Remedy for Love by Bill RoorbachI 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 read.

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.
Published by Workman / Algonquin, 2014
ISBN-13: 9781616203313
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Kelly Simmons 11/3/14, 6:49 AM  

Wow, this sounds AMAZING. What a great idea for a book. Definitely putting on the nightstand, thank you Beth.

rhapsodyinbooks 11/3/14, 7:29 AM  

Yes, I didn't mention the food parts in my review, but they were indeed amazing! ...had me planning meals...

(Diane) bookchickdi 11/3/14, 7:49 AM  

Great review! I have been curious about this book for awhile and your review has convinced me to read it pronto.

Jenn's Bookshelves 11/3/14, 9:10 AM  

SO many people are raving about this book. It's certainly not my usual kind of book, but I'm intrigued. I picked up a copy last week; I can't wait to curl up with it!

Beth Hoffman 11/3/14, 9:10 AM  

I've developed a bad habit of ignoring books with the word "Love" in the title. I'm so glad I read your full review (which is excellent); this book is definitely one I'll read!

Karen 11/3/14, 9:21 AM  

The title is indeed a turn-off, but your review definitely has me intrigued....

OnDBookshelf 11/3/14, 10:31 AM  

I like the sound of this. Life Among Giants was great, I'm glad to see another Roorback novel.

bermudaonion 11/3/14, 11:04 AM  

It sounds like this has a lot going for it. I'll have to look for it.

Les 11/3/14, 12:35 PM  

This sounds very good. The foodie aspect has me convinced!

Nise' 11/3/14, 1:45 PM  

I've got a copy of this book and am looking forward to reading it soon.

Carole 11/3/14, 4:21 PM  

Now on my tbr, thanks! Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Vasilly 11/3/14, 8:23 PM  

I love this format! I'm going to see if my library has this.

Anonymous,  11/4/14, 12:22 PM  

I am off to add this to my Audible wish list. Sounds fantastic!

Katherine P 11/4/14, 10:02 PM  

I'm not sure I would pick up this book if I had just read the blurb but your review is fantastic! You really brought out a lot of issues that appealed to me - especially the food. I'm glad to hear you really enjoyed the audio. I'm adding it to my wishlist!

Daryl 11/6/14, 2:45 PM  

definitely putting this on my 'to read' list ..thanks!

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