‘The remedy for love,’ by Bill Roorbrach is a breathtaking and unique novel. I’m really glad I chose to read it, because it has given me so much to think about, and so much to be grateful and hopeful for. Its underlying optimism and faith in human nature is contagious.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading. I was drawn in by the wintry blurb, ‘The Storm of the Century threatens western Maine,’ and the two unlikely protagonists; a young, penniless squatter and a lawyer, who find themselves alone and trapped in a cabin for a few days during the storm.
I started reading the first ten percent, as I usually do when a blurb catches my attention. I wasn’t sure if I’d continue reading, but once I started, I couldn’t stop and I finished the novel in one wonderful sitting.
The vivid descriptions transported me to the alarmingly unprepared cabin; no electricity or running water, or any type of ‘modern comforts’ we take for granted. The writing made me feel snowed in, chilled to the bone and terrified of the storm.
The only two characters present in the novel also came to life with their loneliness, pain and singularities. Danielle, a starving and homeless young woman, seems unstable to the point of lunacy, and Eric is, at first, a cold, uncaring lawyer, interrogating a suspicious client.
I enjoyed listening to their banter and occasional quarrels. I was grateful for the comic relief brought through their dialogue and interaction which was well constructed and realistic, given their peculiarities and the situation they were trapped in.
Neither of them are who they seem at the beginning. They are both in denial, living in a parallel universe, refusing to face the truth of their respective situations. They cope in very different ways. Eric, abandoned by his wife, is involved with his community doing pro bono work, while Danielle has chosen the solitary path of an outcast, and yet they are ultimately able to help each other start to face the truth of both their situations, in order to move on.
It is not a traditional love story, and there is no conventional love between the characters, although they grow to care for each other, and yet, it is an intensely romantic novel, because there’s an underlying belief that love can heal, that love can break down barriers, and love can arise in the most adverse and unexpected ways.
In spite of the undeniable affection and attraction which grows between them, the few intimate scenes are more gritty than romantic, and yet, there’s no doubt in my mind, that their relationship will develop and their lives will never be the same after their encounter, because they’ll both start moving on from their pain and loss, whatever happens between them in the future.
It isn’t a happy ever after, easy ending, there’s still a lot of healing to be done after the final page, but it’s an optimistic and hopeful conclusion.
I was surprised at the negative reviews, but on the other hand, I’m aware that it is a challenging and intense novel, which will not leave any reader indifferent.
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