Cynthia Holz's first novel with Knopf Canada is a spellbinding story that offers an intimate look at family, friendship and altruism, and unrolls a cast of characters you can't help but root for even as you question some of the things they do. Dr. Ben Wasserman, an organ transplant psychiatrist, is having trouble assessing a would-be kidney donor who may turn out to be a bona fide altruist. But as his interest in the man grows, so do his professional and emotional conflicts. At the same time, Ben's psychologist wife, Renata Moon, is struggling to treat a phobic client whose husband died in a train crash. When the young woman reveals that she is pregnant, Renata's disappointment in her own childless marriage is triggered anew. Ben and Renata work hard all day, then go home to squabble over the nightly take-out. It doesn't help to ease the rising tension in their marriage that Ben's widowed mother, Molly, has made her disapproval of her yet-to-be-pregnant daughter-in-law well known. Nor does it help when Molly takes in a boarder, a man from her past whose secrets threaten to complicate the family dynamics even more. Benevolence is intelligent, amusing and deeply humane, a novel that asks unsettling questions, makes surprising connections and allows room for some unexpected, magical solutions.