Canadian Hollingshead (stories: The Roaring Girl, 1997) goes soft and mushy on us with this first novel about a wounded man’s search for the healing touch. —With Caroline Troyer I didn—t know what I was getting into.— That’s how Tim Wakelin sees it, with hindsight. Catherine is a healer, a small-town girl whose reputation for miraculous cures has spread across Canada by word of mouth, until it makes its way to the offices of the national women’s magazine that Tim writes for. His editors are intrigued, so much so that they give him carte blanche on the assignment: 3,000 to 4,000 words, however he wants to approach it, with as much time as he needs to get the job done. So off goes Tim, straight from the big city to Grant, the backwoods hamlet where Caroline lives with her parents. Since her father’s in real estate, and since Caroline works in his office, Tim pretends to be looking for a cabin in the woods to call his own. Naturally, Caroline is only too happy to show him properties, but as the charade proceeds, Tim quickly realizes two things:(1) she’s no fake, and (2) he needs her. Having recently lost his wife, Tim remains racked by grief, barely able to function. So he does indeed move into a cabin, and abandons writing his article—only to get lost in the woods. Now he really needs to be rescued, and guess who saves him? The ending’s predictable, as with all morality tales, and the lushness of Hollingshead’s prose can be exasperating (—How could she describe to Wakelin or anyone something that could not be contained by her understanding when it was not present, and when it was present could not be contained even by her body?—). But here, in the New Age, we—d rather be healed than coherent. A sloppy, sentimental mess. Ought to be read with latex gloves.