“She felt the abyss of disenchantment.”
― Gabriel Garcí¬a Márquez, "Love in the Time of Cholera"
It’s statistically accurate to claim money as the number one stress factor in a marriage. Both parties tend to blame financial devastation on their spouse: he didn't close the deal; she ate bonbons.
As bankruptcy looms, the breakdown of a marriage into its myriad parts is fast-tracked. Unless a couple communicates well or has a strong foundation and a commitment to the idea of family and marriage, divorce appears immanent.
Carol Wiley Cassella embeds two candidates into this scenario, each vying for the title role of "Healer". Narrator Claire Boehning has enjoyed the wealth husband Addison generated in pharmaceuticals, shaking off her career family practice physician dream during the last weeks of Residency to birth their premature daughter Jory.
Enter the conflict:
- Addison's initial test for ovarian cancer catapulted the family to the upper crust of society. His second exploration into cancer prevention has dismal results; rats die. Will he compromise facts for fortune and lose Clair's respect in the process?
- Teetering on bankruptcy, the couple dismantles their elegant home and resettles in a small town cabin, where Clair picks up a stethoscope to serve an impoverished, migratory, Spanish-speaking populace. Has Clair become the Healer, demoting the fragile Addison?
Cassella develops her story line with the meticulous precision of a medical transcript; she examines each new character’s general appearance and vital signs, noting any extremities of behavior, probing their lungs and cardiovascular rhythms with technical acuity. This methodical analysis invites observers into a clinical fold of intimacy, generating a desire for positive outcomes.
And then, with miraculous technique, Cassella connects all the dots. The story expands beyond each character’s medical history, social history, family history until it becomes one of international commentary; Claire and Addison part of a conglomerate weighing values beyond monetary systems.
Only one system remains ambulatory; Claire and Jory left their Audi dangling over a cliff. What was the point of this melodramatic scene?
In the end, Claire and Addison turn pointed fingers inward, examining personal pathologies until they arrive at a logical diagnosis for their marriage.
Based on a rating scale of 100, “Healer” (2010) earns 95 points. Carol Cassella has written two additional novels set within the field of medicine, “Oxygen” (2008) and “Gemini”, released March 4, 2014.