It’s bright and sunny, with just a hint of breeze on this cool, refreshing spring morning. Everything is green and bursting with life after the rain we had last week, the birds are singing, the laundry is hanging on the clothesline outside, and it’s a perfect day for a walk… or maybe I can take my bike out for a first spin of the year! But for now, I’ve got a steaming cup of chai and a delicious Date Bar to enjoy as I write this post.
My Volunteer book club met yesterday to discuss Canadian author Michael Christie’s nearly 500-page book, Greenwood, and it was a huge success (no pun intended!). This “1200 year-old, Ancient Forest Douglas Fir” of a book tells multiple stories that are all connected through the theme of logging and the ecological harm that deforestation can cause. Set in 2038, 2008, 1974, 1934 and 1908, the story begins at what could be seen as the outer ring of a log, where the Withering has destroyed all of the world’s trees. Jacinda “Jake” Greenwood, a dendrologist, works in one of the last remaining stands of Ancient Forest on a small island off the coast of BC, Greenwood Island, conducting tours at an Eco-Retreat, where the attendees are generally rich and distracted. When she notices evidence of a fungus on one of the oldest and most stately trees, her concern is met with total disregard by the management. Drowning in student debt and barely hanging on to her job, Jake is skeptical when her former fiancé, Silas, turns up with a new kind of proposal, one that, if accurate, could save her and possibly the trees. Readers are then taken back to 2008, where we meet Jake’s mother, Meena and father, Liam, and learn their stories. Moving once again back to 1974, we meet Liam’s mother, Willow, and discover what led Liam to become the man he was. Moving back again to 1934, we meet Willow’s family members and learn a bit about why she became the woman she did. And then back to 1908, to the beginning of it all, where we meet Harris and Everett, two boys whose lives will touch all the others in the story, and whose origins are at the centre of everything. My friend gave me this book a couple of Christmases ago, and I’ve been putting off reading it because, at 490 pages, it was, well, quite daunting. I generally don’t enjoy long books, especially multi-generational sagas, but I put this one on our book club list for our May meeting because it is at heart a wake up call to start living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, perfect to read around Earth Day. I wasn’t sure how my book club members would feel about reading such a lengthy book, and one of my book club members, who listens to audiobooks, said that, at 15+ hours, she was sure she wasn’t going to like it or even finish it, but she then admitted that she was enjoying it so much that she actually finished it early. The others agreed that they found it to be “unputdownable”, as did I. It was a very complex story with plenty of sub-plots that, like the roots of trees in a forest, were tightly interwoven and were all necessary for the health of the main plot (or tree). We found the analogy of the stories to the forest to be well-developed, and the relationships within the story were also like those in a forest. The interconnectedness of the characters, whether blood relatives or circumstantial family members, like those of the tree roots, were explored in depth throughout the sections of the story, but rather than becoming tedious or overwhelming, this exploration was necessary to bring a more complete understanding of the far-reaching results of decisions made in the past as they bear on the decisions made in the present or even the future. WOW, it was one of the best books I’ve read in a while, and I think my book club members would agree. We all loved it, and Christie did an amazing job of making every detail of this complex story work together to create a literary masterpiece in what I’ve just learned is a new genre, CliFi (Climate Fiction). I would highly recommend this novel to anyone, and if you’re put off by the size, don’t be - I guarantee you’ll stay up late to read “just one more chapter” and will end up wanting more when you do finally reach the very last page. And just a note: if you do read this book, read right to the very last page, as there is a little surprise!
That’s all for today. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine, and Happy Mother’s Day!
Bye for now... Julie