Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spotlight on: The Blue Orchard

{The subject matter of this book is not for everyone. I'm not looking to have a moral or political discussion here, I simply want to tell you about this book.}


Jackson Taylor had me at Hello.

But let me go back to the beginning. You browse in bookstores, right? And the people that work there often ask if they can help you. Here is what passes through my mind, but not my lips, when this happens:

1. Me? Need help in a bookstore?

and

2. Yes, perhaps you can show me a fabulous book, one that I'll love and adore, that I've Never Seen or Heard of Before.

Good luck with that.

It's pretty rare that I come across a book that I've never heard of or noticed but that's just what happened with The Blue Orchard: A Novel. There it was, on the new fiction table with its appealing cover and heaps of praise. As they say, There's an app for that (Snaptell in this case), so I used my dear friend and looked up this book. All signs pointed to me taking this book home, and that is just what happened.



From the very beginning, we know a few things. Middle aged nurse Verna Krone has been arrested for assisting with illegal surgery performed on a woman. It is the 1950s and the doctor she has been working for happens to be a widely respected, community serving, politically involved black man. How did Verna get to be this woman? That is what we are to find out.

Verna Krone grew up in poverty, removed from school to go out to work and support the family. Also to be abused. Life is rough, but Verna perseveres, working at this job and then that. Finally a little bit of luck comes to this long suffering woman and she is able to train to be a nurse. Verna loves being a nurse, she is conscientious and takes pride in her work. Along comes another opportunity, a chance to make what is to most people quite a lot of money. Verna begins assisting Dr Crampton with his surgeries on women. These woman come from near and far, some are strangers, others familiar. They are all looking for the same thing. Eventually, the arrests come.

Jackson Taylor has done a sublime job of telling this story, that of the life of his grandmother. This is the story of one woman's life but it is so much more. It's a picture of a time in history, when politics and race and the law collided, and Verna Krone just happened to have lived through it. This is storytelling, folks, in its purest form. This is a long and meaty book, one to take your time with and savor and one that I was sad to see come to an end.

12 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds like I would like it quite a bit. Lovely review!

Diane said...

great review tara. i do have a copy of this book and now i am really looking forward to reading it.

Hannah Stoneham said...

This does sound interesting and sometimes a doorstop novel is just what you need!

Have you seen the film Vera Drake? I haven't but it tackles similar issues and has been on my DVD shelf for ages...

thanks for sharing

Hannah

Danielle said...

I've heard of this one and was wondering--it sounded good, but the size put me off. Now I am happy to hear I will have to really pick it up!

Les said...

This sounds like something I'd enjoy. And it sounds like a great book club selection. Hannah mentioned the movie, Vera Drake, which I've seen and can recommend. I also loved The Cider House Rules by John Irving. Thanks for such a thorough review. Off to put this on my wish list.

Tara said...

rhapsody in books, I'm glad this appeals to you. Thanks!

Diane, I do hope you like it.

Hannah, I have not seen Vera Drake but I do know of it. It's funny that that film just came up for me in another way, from another book that I haven't reviewed here yet.

Danielle, I really, really liked it. For me, it was the perfect length.

Les, this does seem like one you would like. Sounds like I need to watch Vera Drake! I'll see if the library has it...

Bree said...

I just picked up this book to read today and am looking forward to reading.

Tara said...

Bree, I hope you like it!

Jennifer said...

I'm a frequent reader, but I rarely comment. Thank you for posting so many great reviews lately. Most of them have been added to my wishlist. DE Stevenson in particular! I hadn't heard of The Blue Orchard, but after reading your review I had to order it right away. I will be starting it this weekend.

Tara said...

Hi Jennifer, thank you for your nice note. I hope you enjoy this book, I really loved the experience of reading it. Feel free to say hello more often!

Mrs. B. said...

I've never heard of this one. It sounds very very interesting! I'll definitely check it out.

Tara said...

Mrs. B, it was an excellent read.