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Book review: Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Having read and enjoyed The Overstory by Richard Powers, which I reviewed here, I chose Bewilderment at the library.

This was a good book to read immediately after The Bird Way as bird-watching is a major theme in the novel, Bewilderment

Cover picture of Bewilderment with the text 'From the Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Bewilderment, Richard Powers, Author of the Booker-shortlisted The Overstory'. A face in profile is made from trees and birds above a rocky river, a heron has a fish in its beak.
Photo of library copy

The story highlights problems around raising a neurodivergent child. It is a gripping tale, which I could easily have read all in one day, had I not had other things to do. I finished reading it on the second day. The structure of Bewilderment is unusual with lots of short sections including flashbacks, which would make it easy to put down and pick up again for people with only short spells for reading.

It is not an easy read. There is much to think about in it. Having read it once for the story, I read it again to take in more of the ideas. Bewilderment raises many issues including scientific searches for new planets, climate change, the extinction of many species, the breakdown of democracy, and people’s behaviour and priorities in the age of social media.

Although the main characters seem to be atheists there is hope of redemption in the story.

It is a story of love and loss. Bewilderment was shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. It is available as a hardback, paperback, Kindle edition and audiobook.

4

Book review The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

The Bird Way has the subtitle A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent and Think. I borrowed The Bird Way from the library. It was first published in 2020. The book I found was a newly published (2022) paperback edition from Corsair.

Photo of the book, The Bird Way

Jennifer Ackerman has produced a wonderfully informative book about birds from many areas of the world. She has travelled widely and met with researchers from several universities.

The information is not at all boring and there is some delightful wordplay in the narrative about many species of birds. Although I am unfamiliar with birds from other parts of the world apart from the UK, I was fascinated by the tales about all sorts of species.  With a great deal of detail in over 300 pages of fairly small print it took me longer than usual to read this book. It was well worth the effort.

The chapter on how birds play made me observe birds in a new way. Since reading it I have noticed a rook doing aerobatics for fun.

With 12 pages of further reading in even smaller print The Bird Way is an ideal text for students as well as for people with an interest in the natural world.

It is one of the best nature books I have read. No wonder it has won many prizes.

5

Book review: The Gardener by Salley Vickers

On a recent visit to the library I found The Gardener by Salley Vickers, an author whose books I enjoy.

The Gardener is a novel published in 2021. Told in the first person, it covers a lot of ground. There are many fascinating characters with some unconventional views. Place is very important; the setting for most of the story is rural Shropshire, but other places are involved. Relationships within the family and the community play a part. There is mystery. I had to revisit the last few chapters as I hadn’t been paying attention and was unsure about some of the events.

The background to the story includes restoring a garden. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot.

Salley Vickers has written on her website about the circumstances which led to her writing this book.

I enjoyed The Gardener. In fact I have enjoyed all the books by Salley Vickers, which I have read including Miss Garnet’s Angel which I read long before I began blogging.

My other reviews are:-

Cousins

The Boy Who Could See Death

The Librarian

Grandmothers