REMEDIES by Kate Ledger

Book Quote:

“Simon believed in opioids. He prescribed them frequently, sometimes in magnanimous doses. He hated the skepticism about addiction. He believed the studies that showed opioids were the best therapy for chronic pain. Those studies were reason enough to use them. ‘There’s no point in suffering,’ he stated.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (AUG 11, 2010)

Special –> interview with Kate Ledger

Kate Ledger has written a poignant and painful novel about a marriage that is barren of communication and intimacy, left to wither after the death of a six-week old infant named Caleb. Simon and Emily Bear initially married with hopefulness and love, though Emily was as much drawn to the marriage by the potential of Simon’s future success as she was by his being her one and only. Together they have a child. When their child dies, so does their marriage.

Simon is a physician in general practice by himself. He has a large and loyal patient following. Emily is Vice President of a public relations firm representing large and important corporations and clientele, an expert on spin. They have a 13 year old daughter, Jamie, who is incommunicative and oppositional. She is lonely and depressed, isolated from her peers. Her parents are each busy with their own worlds and she is left to flounder on her own. Simon spends his days trying to do good, to do the best for his patients that he can. He listens to them, respects their own diagnoses and gets his self-worth by being needed. His specialty is pain relief. Emily lives the corporate life, traveling to conferences, giving talks and attending meetings. Neither of them have much time for anything but their professional lives.

Fifteen years before the novel opens they had a child named Caleb who died from meningitis. His symptoms were atypical and there was no way that the diagnosis could have been made early enough to prevent his death. Both Emily and Simon have spent the years following Caleb’s death second guessing and blaming themselves for his demise. They each think about what they could have done differently – if only they had recognized the severity of his illness, if only they had checked on him sooner, if only they had taken his crying more seriously. Each lives in their private hell but they never talk to each other about their suffering. They have shut off from one another completely.

Simon is an impulsive man who thinks he enjoys hobbies. However, he doesn’t follow through with them. At one time, he thought he’d raise orchids but that did not come to fruition. Recently, he wants to take on wine making. He thinks this will impress Emily and bring them closer. He has even engaged Jamie in the excitement of wine making. True to form, however, his attempts at wine making don’t pan out. In fact, they further alienate Simon from both Emily and Jamie.

Simon is at his highest form when he is helping patients who are in pain. Unlike many doctors, he is willing to prescribe opioids for pain relief, even in large doses. This is a very important aspect of the book. Opioids are the best pain relief known to man. However, many physicians are reluctant to prescribe them because they fear being reported to the licensing board or being viewed suspiciously by their colleagues. Simon trusts his patients’ reports of pain and treats them all with respect. He is willing to believe them and prescribe strong medicines to improve their quality of life.

At one point in the novel, Simon believes he has found a cure for pain. It is sad to view his naive attempts at getting his colleagues to pay attention to his findings. He has no idea how to market his research. It is further ironic that he is married to an expert in spin who is not even interested in listening to Simon’s findings. Simon tries over and over to get Emily to listen to him but she has no interest at all.

Both Emily and Simon are their own worst enemies. Each of them live in a world of denial, repression, sublimation and self-blame. They have lost the ability to reach out to each other or anyone else. They are stuck in their own excruciating pain – a pain that has no cure and no relief. This is a wonderful novel that demonstrates how two people can live together and be completely isolated from their inner lives and one another. Kate Ledger has written a strong and powerful debut novel, one that holds the reader in its grip.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 46 readers
PUBLISHER: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (August 3, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
EXTRAS: Reading Guide

Bonnie’s interview with Kate Ledger


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August 11, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Reading Guide

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