Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver

Animal Dreams - Barbara Kingsolver
Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver

This tale of complicated family relationships is set in Grace, Arizona, home to populations of peacocks, Hispanics and Native Americans, which co-exist comfortably in this remote mining town.

Thirty-something Codi returns to Grace to take care of her father, Doc Homer, who’s self-diagnosed the early stages of Alzheimers. Her younger sister Hallie has recently left Tucson to put her agricultural skills to better use in Nicaragua where US-backed Contras are fighting the Sandinistas in the Nicaraguan Revolution.

Back “home”, Codi reconnects with her High School world – some of it happy, most of it not. A strong environmental / ecological strand weaves around her rekindled relationship with Loyd Peregrina, a Native American she knew in her teenage years.

As the story progresses, Grace slowly starts to find herself less of the outsider she always felt herself to be.

Author page: Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver

The Photograph – Penelope Lively

The Photograph - Penelope Lively
The Photograph – Penelope Lively

Glyn finds a photo of his (dead) wife surreptitiously holding hands with another.

This novel traces the fall out as he proceeds to question family and friends about his wife’s fidelity during their marriage.

Why did Glyn feel the need to persist in his selfish pursuit for The Truth? I’d say it’s part of his nature. At least he continued his compassion-free quest to the bitter end, and I would love to know what happened next.

Author’s page: The Photograph – Penelope Lively

The Crossing – Andrew Miller

The Crossing - Andrew Miller
The Crossing – Andrew Miller

I did enjoy this novel, far more than You.

That said, it’s a bit of a strange combination, with parts 1 and 2 following the development of Maud and Tim’s relationship from meeting through the university sailing club to the arrival of daughter Zoe and the impact she has on the wider family relationships, and parts 3 and 4 covering Maud’s solo sail across the Atlantic after the death of her daughter and breakdown of her marriage. I found the ending a bit odd, disconnected from the rest of the already disjointed narrative.

Some of the reviews make it sound like there’s some uncertainty about Maud’s earthliness. I found none – her supremely self contained character has been shaped by her unemotional parents and the distant relationships that result.

Publisher page: The Crossing – Andrew Miller

Author interview: Andrew Miller interviewed about The Crossing – Foyles (No date)

Review: The Crossing by Andrew Miller review – Kate Clanchy, The Guardian, 29 August 2015