Thursday, 14 February 2013

Book Review: Solomon's Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson

This is an excellent novel by Jo-Ann Mapson. She is the author of eleven novels and a book of short stories. I don’t think any book review can do justice to Mapson’s writing. This book was exceptional. I was totally engrossed in this book from start to finish.

Solomon’s Oak follows widow Glory Solomon who is inwardly struggling with the loss of her husband. She holds weddings in the chapel built under the two-hundred-year-old white oak tree on their property to generate extra income for her struggling farm. Then, angry and homeless foster teenager Juniper McGuire turns up on Glory’s doorstep. Because of the disappearance of her older sister Casey several years ago, Juniper has a lot of trust and honesty issues. Glory doesn’t know if she can handle Juniper without her husband. Newcomer Joseph Vigil is a retired police officer who was shot while on duty and now lives in pain. He arrives in California to photograph the giant trees- something he has always wanted to do. The lives of these characters firstly intertwine in subtle ways, finally becoming a very close knit family.

This was my first foray into ‘grown up’ fiction for quite some time and I was pleasantly surprised. This book showed me that contemporary adult fiction can be uplifting and firmly rooted in reality, yet life affirming, rather than cynical and depressing. What really stood out for me was Mapson’s writing. She has a sense of wisdom while still writing with a refreshing take on everyday life. The world she created for her characters was full of life and special moments. I felt like Glory, Juniper and Joseph could be walking down the street, rather than just fictional people in the pages of this novel.

The book leaves you with some unanswered questions which I was very excited to discover are answered in her latest book, the (unofficial) sequel- Finding Casey.

I give this book five out of five stars.