As Baker takes us between time continuums, a grieving husband, a fierce warrior, supporting characters, and confounding hints, leads, and fast paced action, two things are guaranteed – you will enjoy this book, and you will be surprised. If you saw any of what comes, you’re a much smarter person than me.
American Sycamore is as intimate as a chat with a friend or a reminiscence on a summer evening in a big comfortable armchair on the front porch. While reading, you physically sense the smell of the river, and the insects. You feel the place. You want to hold this book, carry it around to accidentally open, and read new stories.
The author’s touch is very unique in this book: as it was already said, every chapter is written from one or the other character’s point. Four Parts of the Universe have a lot in common with classic “stream of consciousness” books. You can actually judge the character by his thoughts, the way he sees the world and, as well, by his actions. The rest of this fictional world is described through four pairs of eyes.
Motherline is a bit like a coming-of-age story—Maggie is facing first-time motherhood, saying goodbye to merely being a daughter and granddaughter and now having to face responsibility for another human being, thus continuing the “motherline” of generations of women that had gone before her, while Katharine is still grieving the son that she lost but trying to move forward into her new role as grandmother (and eventual family matriarch) in her own way.
Ms. Donaldson employs the English language like a conductor of a symphony brings a collection of musical instruments to life through the artful direction of the musicians. She is the rare author who can invoke a scene with just the right amount of description, enthralling us with her vivid and poetic world.
The book’s pacing, steady and compelling from the beginning, moves along practically at lightning speed once Elizabeth and her step-niece Maddie (whom Elizabeth hires as her assistant) arrive in Ashland. In what seems like no time at all, Elizabeth and Maddie are adopted by a stray dog (newly-named Puck, naturally), settle into their new funky, artsy, bohemian surroundings, and get caught up in the exciting creative energy of live theater.
Fifteen major characters are a lot for a reader to keep straight, but the presence of many personalities allows McMillan to address a range of contemporary social issues. The American prison system, with its many African American inmates, long sentences and lack of rehabilitation, is shown through an inmate’s eyes. Another character shows the stress of being in the closet.
In Morning Light, the adult David reports Emily’s emotions from that memorable summer of their youth. It is more effective when the author shows those emotions being played out.
In this reader-friendly, accessible novel, two parents from different cultures and social classes bond because each has lost a child. Yet The Lemon Orchard is more than a romance between a modern-day star-crossed Lady Chatterley and a Mellors, however, for it involves a not issue in the United States – illegal immigration.
An unreliable first person narrator allows for the same pleasures of deduction that one would find in a who-done-it. In Flora, readers must be like young Helen, sorting out the contents of a drawer, deciding what’s important enough to retain, and what to let go.