Friday, 16 January 2015

The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver

Why have I got several Barbara Kingsolver books on my shelves, and why is this the first one I have read?  No idea, except that it certainly will not be the last!  I first came across her name when she published a non-fiction account of her life on her country house and small-holding a few years ago, and thought it might be interesting.  And so it might be, as it's still unread, although not for long I feel.  I am trying to read books that have hung around unread for far too long, because why acquire them at all if you are never going to read them?  And of course, the new, shiny ones, especially those for review are grabbed, read and gone in the wink of an eye, leaving those treasures as yet to become friends, unloved on the shelves.

Let me tell you how much I loved this one!  I started to read it at about 10.00 in the morning, and got  finished it by 4.00 pm with a gap for shopping, lunch and a spot of housework  A glorious read, and one that tells a similar story to many others I have read, although superior to most. It reminded me of Because of Winn Dixie,  which is the tale of small child who adopts a stray dog outside a supermarket.  This is the tale of a small child who is thrust into the car of an adult at a filling station.  Both set in the United States and both have that magical quality about the very best of human actions, although you won't know it at first.  The child is"stunned"; wide eyed and seemingly unable to cry nor make any other noise, and in the motel Taylor Greer stops at that night with the child in tow, she finds that the child has been badly treated - not to put too fine a point on it. The child is a girl, and clings on tight with both hands to Taylor, who nicknames her Turtle.  And thus begins the story of how children can change a life, many lives. New friends and acquaintances all have a connection with this child in some way, even if it does not seem clear at first.   It didn't leave me with a tear in my eye, but it did make me laugh aloud several times.  I loved Turtle, and wondered how on earth Taylor was going to get to keep her for more than one reason.  Recommended.

Just one little flaw and nothing at all to do with the book, the writing or the author.  This cover, which is the UK paperback, is like all of the other covers I can find for this novel.  At least this one leads you to believe you might be in Arizona.... but all the others feature either trees, or plants in a garden.  The bean tree of the title is actually Wisteria, a glorious flowering  vine which, if happy will grow a trunk.  But it doesn't look like a tree, as most gardeners will know.  If you want to find out why "bean tree", you need to keep reading.  Turtle knows the name of every vegetable, every plant.........