#34 – Benevolence – Cynthia Holz

Dr. Ben Wasserman, an organ transplant psychiatrist, is having trouble assessing a would-be kidney donor who may turn out to be a bona fide altruist. But as his interest in the man grows, so do his professional and emotional conflicts.

At the same time, Ben’s psychologist wife, Renata Moon, is struggling to treat a phobic client whose husband died in a train crash.

When the young woman reveals that she is pregnant, Renata’s disappointment in her own childless marriage is triggered anew.

Ben and Renata work hard all day, then go home to squabble over the nightly take-out.

It doesn’t help to ease the rising tension in their marriage that Ben’s widowed mother, Molly, has made her disapproval of her yet-to-be-pregnant daughter-in-law well-known. Nor does it help when Molly takes in a boarder, a man from her past whose secrets threaten to complicate the family dynamics even more.

Benevolence is intelligent, amusing and deeply humane, a novel that asks unsettling questions, makes surprising connections and allows room for some unexpected, magical solutions. – Publishers Website

Foe myself, it did take a bit of perseverance to get through the novel.  I was enjoying it, but it is quite melancholy.  You do have to have a mind-set I think to read this novel about the relationships of a husband/wife, who are in the same field so to speak per say about their lives as counsellors – one as a transplant psychiatrist in a hospital and his wife being a psychologist with her own office.  The people they are helping in a way are just as melancholy as the main protagonists.  Yes, they all face the same issues – wanting to help, wanting to be interesting, wanting much of the same things one has, but, unable because of biology or temperament to achieve.

The main characters do realize that they need to communicate more with their spouse, but are afraid of what the other will and think about what they have to say – ambivalence or anger towards it as it always seems to happen lately.  It was an interesting novel, I didn’t love it, nor did I hate it either.  I think this one will have to be to you and how you perceive.

Cynthia’s Website / Read an Excerpt

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