The Healing Art

A. N. Wilson, Author Penguin Books $9 (272p) ISBN 978-0-14-006122-2
Pamela Cowper and Dorothy Higgs are in the same hospital ward when they learn that they have cancer. Pamela is informed that she has no chance of remission, while Dorothy's situation is more hopeful. Wilson (see above review), with a delicate wit and intelligence, ably depicts the aftershock as the two women face the fact that they are dying. Oddly, there is no sense of urgency or panic in Wilson's narrative; there is no insistent self-pity exhibited by the two women as they wrap things up, as it were, in their lives. Dorothy immerses herself in family; Pamela has her work, and she turns to religion, even visiting a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary, where there is a ``holy well'' that supposedly has miraculous healing powers. As both women contain their grief, the plot comfortably broadens to enable other characters to make an appearance and to allow Wilson his ingenious prose, which engages the reader in a satiric conversation and narrative about love, death, sexual mores, religion and medicine with an uncompromising insight into his subjects' foibles. The author's observations are keen and his humor wry, and he leads Pamela and Dorothy to explore and discover certain depths of their personalities and of those dear to them when their lives are soon twisted again by unseen circumstances. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Hardcover - 278 pages - 978-0-436-57603-4
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