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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.

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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

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Book review – The Wanderer: Scorned by Natasha Woodcraft

Natasha Woodcraft has written a remarkable book – The Wanderer: Scorned is the first in a series looking at what the background might have been to some well-known stories from the book of Genesis. She is not writing specifically for people who regard the Bible as a sacred text. The Wanderer: Scorned is a work of fiction, but the story includes many truths about relationships between people and between people and God.

Picture of the paperback book The Wanderer: Scorned

The tale is told as a story within a story. I became so absorbed in the main story that I had forgotten the context in which it was being told. Once I had read the book and the appendices I went back and read the prologue and epilogue consecutively. They fit together perfectly and left me wanting to read the sequel.
I enjoyed the way that Natasha Woodcraft imagined what it would have been like for the first humans, having been expelled from Eden and being inexperienced in every way.

Readers who are familiar with other Bible stories may find a foretaste of some of them. The relationship between two brothers reminded me of the story of the prodigal son. Having to wait during a character’s illness was not unlike Jesus’ response to Lazarus’ illness. There was also an incident reminiscent (or prescient) of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

As well as being a writer, Natasha Woodcraft is also a musician. Her song included in Chapter 3 is available as a video with subtitles on YouTube.

I read an ARC (advance review copy) as a large print .pdf file, which took me longer than it would have taken to read a book. (For one thing it wasn’t on my TBR (to be read) pile!)

The Wanderer: Scorned is being launched on 6th August 2022. It was a real privilege to be able to read it ahead of that date. It is available from Amazon as a Kindle edition from 2nd August 2022 and a paperback from 6th August 2022.

The sequel, The Wanderer: Reborn, is expected in Winter 2022.