By Bill Roorbach

Algonquin Books, 2014

311 pages, $24.95

ISBN 978-1-61620-331-3

Comedian Alan King once joked: “If you want to read about love and marriage you’ve got to buy two separate books.”

Maybe not.

Maine author Bill Roorbach writes effectively about both in his latest novel, “The Remedy For Love.” Alan King may be a funny man, but Bill Roorbach is a good deal more serious and perceptive.

Roorbach lives in western Maine and is the author of the novel “Life Among Giants,” a contender for the Maine Readers’ Choice Award in 2013. He also writes excellent short stories like “Big Bend” (2001) and nonfiction like “Temple Stream” (2005).

Roorbach’s fiction always explores “the constant mystery of human interaction” in deep, penetrating ways. Here, he puts two strangers together, a man and a woman, trapped in a mountain cabin during a massive snowstorm. Their forced predicament reveals much about how men and women perceive each other when they have no other choice.

Eric is a small-town lawyer, unhappily separated from his wife, just drifting from day to day. Danielle is a gaunt, dirty young women, with little money and no plans, living as a squatter in a rundown cabin in the woods. A chance encounter at a grocery store, an embarrassing moment and a thoughtful good deed unwittingly join them together. The pair is now alone on an agonizing journey of heartbreak, painful memories and a fleeting chance for a tiny bit of happiness — if they survive the storm and their hurtful bickering.

Eric and Danielle don’t like the arrangement or each other. He is ill-prepared and worried. She is fearful, angry and foul-mouthed. They posture, lie and embellish, feeling each other out, giving nothing away. Gradually, however, they reach a chilly truce and small truths emerge as they reveal themselves. And the truths are both ugly and hopeful.


By Sharon Lovejoy

Down East Books, 2015

303 pages, $17.95

ISBN 978-1-60893-359-4

After a winter like this one, who among us doesn’t think of the joys of the garden in springtime, summer and fall? Gardener and author Sharon Lovejoy thinks about her gardens all the time: “A garden can give many harvests, but perhaps the most important is the one that awakens our spirit every day.”

We may be ankle-deep in mud, slush and seed catalogs, but Lovejoy’s new book, “A Blessing Of Toads,” gives us plenty to think about as we prepare to enjoy our gardens.

Lovejoy is the author of numerous gardening and nature books, including “Trowel And Error” and “Hollyhock Days.” She was also a regular contributor to “Country Living Gardener,” from 1993 until its demise in 2006. She is a seasonal resident of South Bristol and she and her husband operate Comfort Found Literary Lodging in Damariscotta.

This book contains 46 essays with illustrations about the natural world found in gardens with a focus on the birds, insects, reptiles, rodents and other critters that can plague us, but more often please and benefit.

Each essay is a stand-alone piece, with tips and quips on why and how to attract beneficial birds and insects, and repel other unwanted garden visitors. With humor and clarity, she writes about flower flies and paper wasps, scarecrows and ladybugs, squirrels and snakes, as well as spiders, bluejays, fireflies and toads (of course!).

Her essay “Bumblebee Rhumba” is an excellent, very funny portrayal of bumblebee antics and their importance to the garden. Best are the essays about skunks and why it’s actually a good idea to have them around; about crows and their intelligence and family values; and about the prehistoric nature of dragonflies.

Learn why acorns are everybody’s natural food, how to raise your herd of earthworms, how fireflies communicate, why she actually likes tomato hornworms (yuck!) and why owls are our pals.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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