A poignant portrait of the author’s mother and her descent into dementia, especially difficult for the family to get their brains around because the mother was a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners, teacher with a PhD. Not really refreshments, I’d call them recipes, as the author tries to reconnect with her mother by cooking her mother’s signature convenience-food-based dishes.
Quick-paced & detail-oriented (acute attention to the intricacies of the physical world) with some amazing word constructions (or words)–“splodged with rain,” “scuddy clouds,” “kick [water] with shonky glee” (of course they’re all better in context)– this family story is read-worthy.
Is it the roses or the prickly “gal” who’s our spunky first-person narrator that the title is referring to? This is a beautiful story beautifully writ of family, rooted (pun intended) in metaphor.
This is the story of two women who can’t leave the title island fast enough and one who has to be dragged, kicking and screaming (and in mourning) away, over the course of several generations. (Or is it the story of the island itself?) Life is difficult and remote here, living among bleating sheep and battering winds. For some, paradise, for others, prison.
Gretchen is gone, to an early (suspicious) death just as her birth mother went to an early death before her. Asked to be her literary executor, longtime friend Jamie attempts to solve the mystery of both deaths (before her baby is born).
This book makes me want to scream about the way women (for better or worse) were (mis)treated in the mid-1850s when a husband (or a father or a brother) could, on an unsubstantiated whim, commit his wife/daughter/sister to an asylum.
Read this book for the insights about reading. Read this book for the beautiful writing. Read this book for the tragical-magical story of a woman and her family.