Read Down 2017: how does your garden grow?

I think few people can deny that nature is chock full of magic.  The first magic honored the natural world and all the things that it does completely without us, in fact, in spite of us.

This post features two blogs where growing things on purpose is a major component of the book. Books about intentionally  growing things as well as redemption, redemption that is being looked for, and redemption that happens entirely by accident.

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The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin

I picked up The Orchardist a few years ago when it first came out, but it is a part of my Read Down 2017, as I still had not gotten to it.  It’s my kind of historical fiction, the kind that uses a story to steep you into the times, in this case, the American West 1850-1900.  A self elected foster father tries to save two abused pregnant teenage girls escaping a life of sexual slavery because his own beloved sister, the only person he had, disappeared mysteriously decades before.  The kind of vanishing without a trace that you could do in the loose structure of the American West at that time.  But when the girls stumble into his life, he sees a chance to save them, and keeps trying to save them at his own detriment until he dies. Raising the baby that was born and left on his orchard is not enough to assuage his prolonged grief over the loss of his sister.  We don’t even know if she was kidnapped or left of her own accord, but the fact that all that was left of her was a bonnet drives his actions in years to come. The fact that he grows food to sell as a means of sustenance is secondary to the other pieces of the plot.

This is a character driven novel to be read for its beauty and understanding of a different time and place.  I think when it came out, some people commented that it was slow and anti climactic, but I thought it was beautiful and engrossing.

There is also a re read on some of the Reading Challenges that I have been unsuccessfully avoiding.  Yeah, I have been trolling, especially as it relates to my own book collection.  I can’t even hold to my resolution for three months, but whatever, I actually have been drinking more water.  I bought bottled waters that just feel easier at home and reminders when I am out. But, somehow drinking more water has been easier for me to do than not looking at MMD, BookRiot and Popsugar.  But I have not committed myself to a number of books or pages, so that’s a start.  Any. Whoodle.

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The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

I loved The Secret Garden as a kid, and re reading it as an adult, I am realizing that my love of Gothic novels goes back to before I knew what a Gothic novel even was.  A little girl is saved from who she was by coming to the Moors under the care of an absent uncle and getting lots of outdoors and some good old hands off/borderline neglectful British parenting.  She comes from India, where she is yellow skinned, sour faced and completely unappealing and spoiled to regain health and vigor in the finding and cultivating of a forbidden garden in a big old house full of sadness and mystery.

And she is also saved by the poster child for old school British parenting, the ultimate best case example of a child who is allowed to roam free all day every day, Dickon.  If Dickon was brown he would have been Burnett’s version of the magical n-.  He is poor and uneducated and yet he brings life, love and vigor wherever he goes.  He will probably grow up to have the soul dragged out of him by factory work or some other such drudgery that effectively killed the souls of the poor at that time of history, but for now, he is a veritable beacon of heart and goodness.  Also of gender roles, because the girls in poor families with tons of kids are expected to help with the cooking and childcare and household duties, while the boys can be out on the moors talking to birds and raising orphaned animals or doing what they please for 12-16 hours a day.  Dickon’s older sister was a servant and sending her wages back home and coming home on her one day off a month to help her mother with the baking. Can I be any more obvious that I don’t like it when people hold old school hands off parenting as the gold standard to which we should all aspire?  These kids raise themselves back to having the potential of being productive members of society all on their own.  No help from busy adults who don’t set any limits.

These are both good reads, one is better for the atmosphere, the characters and the themes, and the other is a nice feel good story of redemption. Both worth a go.

 

Comments/shares/likes always appreciated!

 

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