Willa Knox's family is in crisis: she has lost her job, her father-in-law who lives with them is dying, her son Zeke is suddenly thrust into the role of a single parent and their home is falling down around them. Clutching for straws, Willa investigates the history of their home, hoping that the local historical preservation society will come to their aid. Her research reveals a town from more than a century earlier, populated with kindred spirits, especially botanist Mary Treat and Thatcher Greenwood, a school teacher who controversially embraced Charles Darwin's theories.
Moving between the Vineland, New Jersey of 1871 and 2016, this is a thought-provoking and expertly observed story of two families weathering the storms of social upheaval in a world where all the rules have changed.
Everyone was disappointed with this book, especially those who had read and enjoyed other works by Kingsolver. Most thought the discussion between the characters about evolution vs creationism caused the book to drag and at times felt preachy. However, it did generate a good discussion, particularly about the US medical system.
This book was generally enjoyed by everyone, and a lively discussion was had.
Very mixed reviews, thought it was not her best work and needed a good edit, but provoked some very interesting discussion.
Most would have liked this to be shorter! Some members related well to the present day family, others more to the historical characters. All enjoyed the historical element.
A most memorable book from a brilliant author. Thank you for giving us this. So relevant to all.
A more varied enjoyment of this one, but overall a good topic with interesting characters and contemporary ideas.
Two people really liked this book and thought the two stories were cleverly interwoven. Others found it hard work, particularly the story during the 1880s, and slow moving. Some good humour particularly in the contemporary story. Provoked good discussion.
This book sparked a lively and wide-ranging discussion among the group. Everyone enjoyed it and found many different elements fascinating.
Great discussion; differing views on the way the book was written, and the characters. Thanks.
A cleverly crafted tale. Interesting and absorbing. Recommended by us all.
We had an excellent and rather wide-ranging discussion based (loosely) on this book. Generally we like Kingsolver's writing - this is not her best book, too preachy really, but still very readable and thought-provoking, with interesting characters in both story-lines.
Our group was divided over this title; some loved it and some did not finish. It became more absorbing as you read and the characters became more engaging but some struggled to get that far. We loved the portrayal of the differing roles of women in each time period, and the family dynamics in each household carried the lack of plot to hang the characters on.
Has contemporary relevance. Generated good diverse discussion. Whilst the group appreciated the quality of her writing, there was irritation with the alternate chapter structure, which disrupted the storytelling, and a general agreement that the message was hammered home.
We missed discussion of this great book due to Covid.
Mixed reactions - different format with two separate stories in alternating chapters.
Varied comments. generated very interesting discussion on many aspects - the characters ( in both centuries), the attitudes ( Creation vs Darwinism), capitalism vs environmental sustainability.
Our meeting was very divided on this one. Well-written, but some found its juxtaposition of lives a little confusing. Others loved it.
There was a mixed reaction to this book. One person didn't finish it, while others thoroughly enjoyed it. It was not an easy read.