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The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian
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The Law of Similars

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The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian
Paperback $20.00
Mar 14, 2000 | ISBN 9780679771470

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    Mar 14, 2000 | ISBN 9780679771470

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  • Aug 13, 2002 | ISBN 9781400032969

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  • Aug 05, 2014 | ISBN 9781101913246

    324 Minutes

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“A fast, fascinating read.” —Denver Post

“Bohjalian seems to have hit his literary stride with Leland Fowler, whose voice is intimate, credible, and sure in illuminating the shadows of his soul…. Once opened, The Law of Similars is a hard book to put down.” —The Boston Globe

“Bohjalian [has] a distinctive narrative voice, [an] artful hand with dialogue, and [a] disarming gift for taking the reader into his confidence.” —Vermont Sunday Magazine

Praise for Midwives:

“A writer of unusual heart.” —The Boston Globe

“This skillfully constructed, fast-paced novel is not only beautifully written but also as hard to put down as any old-fashioned thriller…. This astonishing story will keep readers up late at night until the last page is turned.” —Washington Post Book World

“Superbly crafted and astonishingly powerful…. It will thrill readers who cherish their worn copies of To Kill a Mockingbird.” —People

“A treasure…. It is a rare pleasure when a finely written novel also grips us with sheer storytelling power.” —Portland Oregonian

Author Essay

Chris Bohjalian on The Law of Similars:

Often it’s the little things that will trigger a novel: Meeting a midwife at a dinner party. Seeing a photograph of an elderly dowser–or water witch–in a newspaper. Having a cold.

The fact is, The Law of Similars was inspired by a cold.

It was one of those colds that lingered–not unlike the cold that would eventually beleaguer Leland Fowler, the novel’s narrator. My daughter was in a new day care, which meant I was making contact with every single cold germ medical science has catalogued. Nothing was able to keep me cold-free for more than a day or two, not even that workhorse of over-the-counter New Age wonder drugs, Echinacea. And so I finally decided to visit a homeopath. I wasn’t exactly sure what homeopathy was, but the remedies sounded exotic: tarantula and arsenic and gold. Belladona. Pulsatella. The black widow spider.

Moreover, there is actually a homeopath in the little village in which I live. (My corner of rural Vermont, apparently, is a small mecca of sorts for holistic healing. We have here a homeopath, a naturopath, a pair of Midwives, and two meditation centers–including one of some international renown.)

I don’t think I imagined there was a novel in homeopathy, however, until I met the homeopath and she explained to me the protocols of healing. There was a poetry to the language that a patient doesn’t hear when visiting a conventional doctor: "Herring’s Law of Cure," "Succussing the Remedy." And, of course, the foundation for treatment, "The Law of Similars." In essence, I like the words.

On my second visit, I was given my remedy, and I was surprised to discover it worked. Or, perhaps, the homeopath got lucky and the timing was right and the cold went away on its own. I’ll never know. Either way, the cold indeed disappeared, and it didn’t come back for almost a year.

Does this mean I’m a convert to homeopathy, a passionate, proselytizing disciple? Not completely. I still see a conventional physician and I still take prescription medicines. I am still more likely to take an Advil for a headache than Ignatia (the St. Ignatius bean) or Aconite (wolfsbane).

But I am convinced that the bridge between body and mind is sturdier than I’d once believed. That link may be invisible, but it is profound. I wasn’t sure if there was any real magic in those tiny homeopathic pills that I had swallowed, but there was certainly something alluring and seductive in the art itself.

Make no mistake, however, The Law of Similars is not a novel about homeopathy. It is simply a novel in which homeopathy–or, actually, the miracles in all medicine that seem to be always just beyond our reach–plays a role.

And since my cold was caught up in my mind with the notion that my daughter was in a new day care, I think it was probably inevitable that the novel’s narrator would be a father. . . and he would have a daughter. . . and that little girl would be roughly my own daughter’s age.

Before I knew it, I had Leland Fowler and his little girl, Abby, and the germ of the story that would grow into a book.

–Chris Bohjalian

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