I’m the kind of reader that gets completely lost in a story. I don’t here what’s going on around me, don’t notice things happening in the room and you’ll have to call my name more than once to snap me out of my book. And I’m still going to finish my sentence/paragraph/page before giving you my full attention. That said, this book did not capture my attention at all, and it’s my first unfinished book on this blog. Let’s call this first attempt at Book#10
Rating: 1- I didn’t finish…
Synopsis: Part one tells of Henry Whitaker who comes from nothing; a poor gardener’s youngest son. He keenly observes the workings of the immaculate English gardens where his father works, learning all the exotic plants. He then starts a lucrative smuggling ring and when he is caught, he is sent out to explore far corners of the New World to discover and acquire new species for the gardens. This venture leads him to discover a tree bark with medicinal properties and Henry begins to build his empire. He starts and sells a company, takes a wife, moves to Philadelphia and has a daughter, Alma.
Part two tells about Alma first as a bright, precocious girl interested in botany and many other subjects. Then as a young lady, envious of her beautiful adopted sister, nervous to disappoint her strict mother and eager to please her absent father. When her mother dies, Alma takes over the household and oversees the Whitaker Company; missing out on marriage and losing the companionship of her sister and friend when they marry. Alma earns a small amount of notoriety for her work in botany, and decides to carve out her niche in the world of plants. Looking for a field that she can study as her own, Alma explores moss, finding it abundant around her home and easy to study samples from around the world. She again finds acclaim for her work with the help of her friend George, a publisher.
That’s the first 35% of the book. The rest remains unknown to me.
My Impressions: Well I clearly did not get lost in this book. There is a lot of detail in the history and botany parts of the story, but not enough story progression for me remain interested. There’s character interaction, but its so limited that it’s hard to care what happens to them next or begin to anticipate their stories. After reading as much as I did, I felt like, no matter what happens to this girl it will not be interesting enough to fill the remaining 65% of this book. The proverbial last straw for me was the moss. Pages and pages of moss. Three kinds of moss on the same stone. Some moss dies and some can look dead until you water it and then it comes back to life. Everywhere you look is moss. And here’s 2 pages about moss under a microscope. To be fair to the author, I may have been reading the same pages over and over making it feel like more moss than there was, but then again, that’s not really saying much about the interest level of the story.
Why you should read it: Convince me to read it: This is the part where I usually sell my recommendation, but since I can’t, I’d like you to sell me on finishing the book. I’ve never read any of Gilbert’s other fiction so I can’t compare, but I loved her writing in Eat, Pray, Love. That felt very natural, this felt very forced. So if you read the book and enjoyed it, please, change my mind!
Book# 10- take 2
“I need to experience books, not just read them.” ― Lauren Morrill, Meant to Be