Knopf Canada (2011), Hardcover, 320 pages
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I chose to read Cynthia Holz's Benevolence during a summer month, and that, to me, was a mistake. The atmosphere of this novel lends itself to winter reading. There is nothing light or airy about the content of the novel; rather, Benevolence is all about insecurities, lack of communication, secrets, and life lessons. It is a dark and cold book.
The novel is based around the lives of multiple characters. Ben, the poetic organ-donor psychiatrist, aches for a child, and is seemingly a lonely and lost man. Molly, Ben’s overbearing and aging mother, is a woman must come to the realization that perhaps a major part of her life is based upon a lie. Finally, Renata, Ben’s psychologist wife, is a woman who desires a child as well, and, despite her ability to solve problems, is unable to foster intimacy with her husband. Each character undergoes a paradigm shift when they interact with a new person they come to care about.
I enjoy reading this novel. Holz has a fluid style of writing, and the story of each character was captivating. My only criticism is that perhaps the novel could have been tightened better, as some chapters took a long time to get to their essential point. Yet, reading this novel still made me want to pursue other works by Cynthia Holz.
More information about the author and her works can be found here.