By all outward appearances, and in their own minds, Simon and Emily Bear lead a happy life. Simon is a successful doctor, beloved by his patients and staff. Emily is a star in the PR world, effortlessly smoothing over crises as she gives talks and inspires young people to pursue her career path. Perhaps the only outward dark spot in their life is their daughter, Jamie, but as she’s a teenager, she’s expected to be rebellious. As the book continues, however, we learn about the cracks in their marriage, like the baby boy who died just weeks after his birth, the man that Emily left because he wasn’t suiting her direction in life, the problems that Simon has with his parents. As the book continues, we learn that appearances aren’t everything, and perhaps the most successful of all of us could be the most broken on the inside.
This was a book that’s grown on me since I finished it. I’m not really a fan of stories about modern relationships, as I’ve mentioned in depth on this blog in the past. I live my own life in the real world, so it takes a special something to capture me in a story that’s about the same world. In fact, I only read this one because my mom requested it from Amazon Vine but left the review too long, and because it’s published by Amy Einhorn Books, of which I’m a fan.
As expected, it took me a while to get into the book. I really wasn’t interested in the fate of this particular family at first; they felt too normal, too much a suburban couple thinking more of themselves than what they are. Interestingly, I found I related much more to Emily – I vastly preferred her sections to Simon’s. I put down the book once or twice when they switched – I just didn’t want to read from his perspective. Simon felt to me like a very arrogant person. He constantly denies anything that’s slightly wrong in his life, glossing over it, inserting himself awkwardly into situations, trying to take control when he’s clearly not wanted. The way he dismisses the intern at the start put me against him right away – he just couldn’t deal with the fact that she didn’t adore him like everyone else. As the book progressed, I could see where he came from. I found his attempt to find a cure for chronic pain almost ironic; he’s trying to cure physical pain when the pain that really impacts his life is the emotional kind, which both he and Emily still suffer from years after their initial loss. Despite understanding, I still couldn’t like him.
Emily, on the other hand, I sympathized with, perhaps because I could see how she made the choices she did when she was young. I felt her pain more clearly; I could understand how she got the way she was but still feel for the woman she’d become. This is so strange, because she commits wrongs over the course of the book that are substantially worse than Simon’s. I was left wondering if I could feel for her, and not him, because her problems were ones I could better relate to as a woman even though I hadn’t experienced them myself. Some sort of instinctive sympathy, perhaps – I really don’t know, but the fact stands.
Remedies would be a great choice for those who really like to peek into the lives of a successful family and see deep into the layers of relationships. For me, however, it fell a bit short, but I’m sticking that firmly in the realm of personal preference and looking forward to seeing if Kate Ledger writes something that’s more to my taste next time.
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from Amazon Vine.