HOPE, WHEN HELD past the point of reason, is liable to transform into a certain kind of absurdity. Over the course of The Healing Circle — the latest novel from writer, artist, and curator Coco Picard — a woman and her loved ones walk the narrow line between hope and delusion as she battles cancer.
The Healing Circle follows Ursula, or, as the story’s anonymous narrator calls her, Mother, on her journey to beat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Ursula’s journey is not centered on chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. With the support of the Goop-esque Healing Circle, a group of affluent California women, Ursula dedicates herself to pursuing alternative healing methods. The list of attempted remedies is endless — Ursula and the Healing Circle look for a cure in urine-dipped celestial charts, yoga, investigations of past lives, and pole-dancing classes. For a while, these endeavors serve as entertaining distractions, but over time, their ineffectiveness proves unbearable. At last, frustrated by the futility of these alternative therapies in improving her condition, Ursula heads to Germany to receive a so-called “miracle cure” that rouses skepticism from her children and unnerves even the most devoted Healing Circle participants. Undeterred, and brimming with quiet desperation and resignation, Ursula makes the trip to Munich.