By Cynthia Holz
ISBN No. 978-0-307-39890-1
Attention all writers of fish-out-of-water, courage-under-fire, romantic-vampire-fiction: See how easy it is to write an original story?
“Benevolence” is an original – of sorts. It’s tempered by enough smarts (in character, motivation, plot) to compensate for its clichés (much of the book reads like script direction). The result is a book that feels oddly fresh and inventive.
We are audience to a childless marriage between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. The former assesses candidates for organ transplants; the latter is currently treating a phobic woman who lost her husband in a train crash. This pair of doctors might have been happy at one time but the daily grind of all things academic, highbrow and just plain petty have turned their marital bliss into blitz.
When they take in a boarder (and his secrets) as a kind of child substitute this dyad of a family takes on a whole new dynamic – one better left for the reader to explore at their own pace. Yes, the set-up might ring bells with those partial to stories about people building their own families of “chosen” relatives but the real pleasure of the book is its many illustrations of how people try, fail or succeed to connect with other human beings in a world full of cultural junk food.