The Remedy for Love

The two protagonists in Bill Roorbach's The Remedy for Love are strong enough to sustain the edge-of-your seat atmosphere, but the snowstorm rolling into Maine becomes a third party, and a doozy of a character. As in his Life Among Giants, Roorbach slowly unveils his characters' backgrounds to build suspense.

Although he's a struggling lawyer in a backwoods town, Eric can't stifle his chivalry when the seemingly homeless customer in front of him in the grocery line can't pay. It's a clear night, but the Storm of the Century is forecast, so he supplements her cash and then offers her a ride. His long-anticipated reunion with his estranged wife is hours away, so he has time. The crusty and skeptical Danielle reluctantly accepts his help, letting Eric carry her bags down the incline to her cabin as the desultory inaugural snowflakes become thick and heavy. The blizzard hits with a vengeance, stranding them in the crumbling cabin she's appropriated, and as they wait out the storm, they learn one another's stories, accept their codependency and try to survive.

Their situation becomes increasingly dire, but Danielle's defensiveness seldom mellows, and Eric swings from sympathy to ire. Forced proximity, cagey attitudes and a frigid setting make for some hilarity, and the basic goodness of the two mismatched housemates invites thoughtful dialogue and reflection. What drove this young woman to become a squatter in a lonely Maine forest? Is Eric's wife really coming back? Who rescues whom? In the end, for Eric and Danielle, the difficulty of facing the increasing snowdrifts is matched by the challenge of honestly confronting their own lives. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

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