Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Kingsolver’

More rereads

Friday, 30 July 2010

The main problem with being late in discussing rereads is remembering exactly what struck me differently this time, as opposed to previously, and why I even felt like rereading that book. Here the whole string of rereads was probably a comfort thing, where I wasn’t in the mood for self-challenge, particularly. Not that these books aren’t thought-provoking, because they certainly are, about a whole range of issues, but at the same time I’ve read them a few times now and have been through those issues then.

16. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
17. Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

This time, what I think I was noticing was the theme of control in the two books. The first is largely about Taylor being a person who wants to make her own life in her own way, with careful planning and saving taking her to an adventure that quickly off her expected route, with the addition to her life of Turtle. Accepting that addition, and allowing for the huge change in lifestyle needed from it, while still taking charge of her own adventure is Taylor’s challenge.

The second comes about four years later, when things are going pretty well for the two, and they have built up what seems to be a strong relationship of trust, which in a difficult way backfires on them as a good deed brings them to the attention of what could be the wrong people. Kingsolver’s gift here is to show us the many and very varied motivations of everyone involved, which are nearly all for what they consider the good, but still come out in decided opposition. Taylor does not react well to the rug being pulled out from under her, and in many ways it is the acceptance and wisdom of age which eventually overcomes the hotheadedness of two oppositely determined young women.

End of an era

Sunday, 1 June 2008

So we’re supposed to be finishing moving out tomorrow (Sunday), and there’s lots to do. We have ordered broadband in the flat, but it’ll take a few weeks, and I don’t even know has our phone line been fixed yet, to use dial-up, so my blog posts may be irregular for a bit.

147. Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

As I began to say last week, I’m thinking of The Bean Trees as a fairy tale, with this sequel as a critical retelling that becomes its own myth, and I amn’t really sure why they are taking me like that. The ongoing story is as plausible as most novels (and seems better researched than many), and the characters have their strengths and faults just like real people.

Perhaps it’s that the first book was very much the tale of one person (Taylor) and her successful quest to make a good life for herself. Sure, there were lots of other people involved, who helped and shaped her, and who she was able to help in turn, and this was necessarily Turtle’s story too, but the ending set us up for Happily Ever After. (I am trying not to spoil too much here, but it’s difficult when I’m trying to discuss the sequel.)

Pigs in Heaven is a broader book, which feels to me (although I know nothing about the author’s intent) like it wasn’t intended from the beginning, but that rather Kingsolver wrote The Bean Trees as Taylor’s story, with Turtle largely a cipher, but then realised the answer to the question of Turtle had not been a long term solution, and decided to write it.

Perhaps this also ties into Annawake Fourkiller’s reiterated point from the book, that whereas Taylor has an individual path and impact, Turtle, as Cherokee, is part of the Nation, and thus has ongoing (if dormant) ties to many people, sharing their story.


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

I’m bored of packing and transporting stuff now, but there is still some to do, so I amn’t getting to do enough crocheting for my pleasure. It’s coming together, however, and hopefully won’t take too much longer. I need to get back to the Braille course as well. Somehow, though, I do seem to be getting some reading done:

134. Great Cities of the World: London by Gill Stacey

Although this book is written from an American perspective, for American and international readers, that did not grate, nor was it even so noticeable more than a couple of times. Otherwise this has good pictures among clear text.

135. The Essential Johannes Vermeer by Christopher Sweet

I saw Vermeer‘s Guitar Player on Friday at Kenwood House, and I think I should go back and examine it again in peace.

I have reviewed other artist biographies in this series before, but I especially like this one, despite some of the interpretations, perhaps because it includes all the paintings reliably suggested to be by Vermeer, and discusses each one as part of a flow of his oeuvre.

136. Graphic Biographies: Rosa Parks: The Life of a Civil Rights Heroine by Rob Shone, illustrated by Nick Spender

This is very clear and interesting, both in the graphic storyline and in the text introduction and appendix. I’ll look for more of the series. It is slightly hagiographic, but it is very good.

137. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

I really like this story of M. (soon to become Taylor) Greer, who has spent her adolescence and younger adulthood preparing to leave her small town, saving money and most importantly refraining from getting pregnant. Within a couple of days of getting out she has been given a baby and in this book slowly makes them a new family circle. One thing I’m never sure of in this book is how old Taylor really is. She’s probably in her mid-twenties, but she never quite says.

The book seems very simple but there’s a lot in there, and I’m glad I reread it. I read this first a couple of years ago, and simply enjoyed and thought about it on its own merits, which are manifold. Then a few months later I found Pigs in Heaven, which is a sequel that takes apart the mechanism by which Taylor gets to keep Turtle (the baby), and which is also very good, but which for me gives this book a fairy tale gloss, as I know the happy ending can’t last and was over simplistic. I’ll probably reread that next, so will talk more about the pairing then.