New novel from Orange Prize nominee - moving and bitingly satirical
From the Publisher
The Geneva laser clinic of Dr. Roman Micheli enjoys the discreet imperturbability of a Swiss bank--no matter who the patient, Roman is the consummate professional. However, at night he reflects to his English wife Isabel, a fellow doctor, "They want me to change their lives while all I can treat is the surface." However, in a spiral of events set in motion by Romans high ethical standards and middle-aged vulnerability, his own life starts to unravel below its serene surface. A brilliant young American violinist strides out to the footlights of Victoria Hall stage and wraps the audience into her transcendant music, while Roman strains from his seat to diagnose the purple stain marring her cheeks beauty. Hers is a life his laser could transform entirelyyet to his consternation, the musician refuses to be "made normal." Meanwhile, Isabels career dramas at the World Health Organisation distract her from Romans lonely frustrations. She is on her own cleansing mission, to eradicate leprosy from remaining endemic countries, including India where a family tragedy planted the seeds of her personal crusade generations before. Only her comically despondent colleague Carlos can share her frustrations with an global institution occupied with more modern plagues. Isabels obnoxious old boyfriend, now Manhattans "Botox King" turns up to taunt and threaten Romans scrupulous reputation with a string of commercial laser beauty clinics boosted by a less-than-honest insurance gate-keeper holding a grudge against Romans success. Like a colorful Greek chorus of images, Roman's Japanese patient seeking tattoo removal glimpses the doctors descent from medical Olympus to suffering humanity and in his own peculiar way, contributes to Romans Dantean journey from complacent resignation to longing, self-knowledge and redemption. The threads of good intentions, differing moral codes and comic misunderstandings intertwine into a moving and satirical look at what lies beneath of the surface of our everyday actions and their unexpected consequences.