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Lee Pennock HuntingtonAs Chris Bohjalian of Lincoln puts it, this is a book that was inspired by a nasty, lingering cold that eventually drove him to a homeopath practicing in his home community. She explained to him the law of similars, the foundation of homeopathic treatment, which teaches that "like cures like," prescribing very small doses of natural remedies that might replicate symptoms of illness in a completely healthy person, but will cure those symptoms in someone who is ill.
Homeopathic treatment did cure Bohjalian's cold, and, without making him a whole-hearted advocate of the system, did give him a profound interest in this doctrine first taught in mid-19th century by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. It became the basis of Bohjalian's sixth novel, powerful in its examination not only of the unpredictable effects of this controversial medical process but also of the unpredictable effects it had in this case on a number of people, all of them well-meaning but some of them fallible.
The narrator is Leland Fowler, a deputy state prosecutor of Chittenden County, living in rural East Bartlett. Leland is a widower, his beloved wife having been killed in an automobile accident, leaving him to care for Abby, their two-year old daughter. Abby is now four, Leland is a dedicated father who is feeling the strain of his responsibilities, and suffering from a nasty, lingering, apparently untreatable cold. In desperation he goes to a local homeopath, who is also a psychologist. Carissa Lake spends some time questioning him on his daily life as a lawyer and single father and getting an account of his emotional state before prescribing any treatment. Leland is strongly attracted to Carissa, and in the Christmas week that follows there is the beginning of a passionate affair. But simultaneously another patient of Carissa's becomes desperately ill.
Leland, hitherto a model citizen, compromises his legal impartiality in his efforts to protect Carissa from prosecution. Other people's lives are affected, and tensions are crossed like so many fallen power lines sparking in a lethal triangle. -- Vermont Sunday Magazine