Sometimes we don't recognize that the wisdom of our elders --- living or dead ---often holds the answers to our biggest problems.
Louella Parsons had certainly forgotten this, but very early on in JIM AND LOUELLA'S HOMEMADE HEART-FIX REMEDY, Louella is reminded. In an enchanting and enchanted dream, Louella is visited by her grandmother, her mother and her aunt, all voices of tried and true, down-home, country wisdom, tweaked with a dash of surprising spice. Louella explains to her predecessors her simple, familiar plight: married for twenty-six years to Jim, they have become complacent and their romance routine. Her female ancestors give her very powerful advice, promising her rejuvenation of body and soul if she can adhere to the basic rules they lay before her.
To put the spark back in the bedroom --- and, actually, every room in the house! ---they must spend three days limiting their sexual activities as dictated by Louella's long-dead kin. While taking advice from the dead and buried may seem bizarre, in REMEDY it's absolutely charming-and successful!
Written in a folksy, comforting and accessible style, the advice to Jim and Louella goes something like this --- on day one, they can talk about intimacy, but they cannot act. On the second day, they can touch, but they cannot taste. On the final day they are limited to tasting, but nothing else. These scenes are tantalizing, teasing, and enough to jumpstart anyone's libido. Berry builds a loving, sexual tension of great power, until, finally, on the fourth day, Louella and Jim can't keep their hands off each other.
But they don't just recapture their love life-they reinvent it. The pleasures of the body seem to open up their minds, too, and they find themselves possessed of new powers of intuition and able to read the very thoughts of those around them.
A journey of healing and revelation begins for the entire town as the news of their special "heart-fixing" capabilities spread. And soon lines are forming outside their house-people come seeking help with their love lives, or long-standing familial battles, and even deep horrifying, unthinkable secrets and problems. Berry tells us so many wonderful stories about the townsfolk --- the librarian, the heavy girl, the crossing guard, the bookstore owners; each tale is a gem in itself.
Berry's rich characters tug at our heartstrings and make us laugh at the same time. There's Mae, the town whore, who has never known love, but knows a bucketful about the so-called pious men who populate the church pews every Sunday morning. Then there's Jim and Louella's son Naim, an educated boy who often can't see beyond his books. And John, Jim's long-lost brother, who carries perhaps the biggest and most pertinent revelation for Jim and Louella.
The wisdom of the ages.the true self, the nature of love --- these are just a few themes in REMEDY.
--- Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara
La Femme Nkechi
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