Simon and Emily Bear look like a couple who have it all. Simon is a respected physician, one of Baltimore's "Top Docs" with a burgeoning private practice. His wife, Emily, shines professionally as a partner in a premier public relations firm. They have a beautiful house and a healthy daughter. But their marriage is scarred by old, hidden wounds. Even as Simon tends his patients' ills, and Emily spins away her client's mistakes, they can't seem to do the same for themselves or their relationship.
Simon becomes convinced he's discovered a cure for chronic pain, a finding that could become a major medical breakthrough. With reckless zeal and obsessive focus, he recruits patients to test the therapy. As he yearns to prove he's a good doctor - and to make amends for a missed diagnosis years ago - he is oblivious of the pain he's causing at home. Emily, still struggling to move beyond the devastating loss she and Simon suffered fifteen years ago, comes to realize she hasn't felt anything for a very long time - that is until a lover from her past surfaces and forces her to examine her marriage.
I received this book as an ARC from Penguin Books. This is Kate Ledger's first novel and the book hits stores today, August 20, 2009.
Although this was a little slow in the beginning, it did become hard to put down towards the end of the book. Rather than chapters, the author used 5 Parts to divide the story, jumping between Simon and Emily's character as the story was told. As a reader, I like to have little breaks in the story, where if I need to put it down, I know I can finish a chapter in a few pages. With the parts in this story that became hard to do. It also made it difficult to stay with the story when it was 50-100 pages before going back to the other character.
The story dealt with marriage, infidelity, parenting, medical issues, death, rejection, and love. All through the story, I kept telling myself that the character, Simon, just needed to feel loved. After the death of their infant, the relationship between Simon and Emily fell apart and neither one of them ever dealt with their child's death. Instead they threw themselves into their careers and eventually ignored their other child. No wonder they were all a mess in the story. It was quite heart-breaking to read, but also frustrating. I just wanted to shake the two of them and say "Grow up and talk to each other!". The story ended leaving you hopeful, but I still would have liked it to be a little more tidied up.
The author's descriptions of feelings in the story were right on and made the reader feel them right along with the story. I liked her description of Emily's face....noticing that her eyes had lost their stars, a wrinkle of consternation etched on her forehead, her lips turned downward...Emily wondering when that had happened. I also understood her part of the story where they got lost driving and the daughter says "we are off the map!" and how Emily realized it described them quite well. Their family was "off the map" and who can't admit at times to being "off the map" yourself...an accurate description. I was saddened by Simon visiting his parents and practically begging for love from them. I imagined the scene and just ached for Simon (one of the few parts of the story where I felt sorry for him). He was begging for acknowledgment and love from them so badly and he just couldn't get it. How that played out in the rest of his life was remarkable.
I learned about "life's goodies" from this story and will try to look for those in my life and not waste them. I also learned about relationships and "like nerves...they can get injured, but can regrow". How true.
I welcome Ledger to the literary world and look for further good reads from her in the future. I give this 3 out of 5 stars.