For reasons I will keep to myself right now, I’ve been thinking lately about relationships between mothers and daughters. So much so that it seems to have subconsciously influenced what I’ve been reading and watching.
Some of these books were chosen for book group, so they shouldn’t factor into my subconscious book choices, but I’ll mention them anyway, because I definitely focused on the relationships.
In The Rose Code (bookgroup choice) three women with varying levels of closeness to their mothers become friends. One is born rich with a distracted and often absent mother, one is born poor with a mother who has more children than she can care for, and one whose mother is physically, verbally and emotionally abusive and beyond overprotective.
InWe Were the Mulvaneys (bookgroup choice) the mother is so ashamed that her daughter has been raped, she doesn’t blink an eye when her husband sends the daughter away and never wants to see her again.
In Pieces of Her (my choice) a widowed mother and her daughter’s close relationship is threatened after they witness a mass shooting at a cafe in a mall and the daughter slowly learns that her mother is not who she thought she was. (I also watched the Netflix series based on this book)
In The Last Days of Night (bookgroup choice) an actress and professional singer and her seemingly domineering mother have a [necessarily once you learn their secret] close relationship.
In With Love from London (my choice) a daughter whose mother abandoned her at age 12 is surprised at age 35 when her mother dies and leaves her a bookstore in London.
I began reading The Hidden Life of Trees shortly after I purchased it in November 2016. I was enthralled by it but for some reason, stopped reading it. After many starts and stops since then, I finally finished it this morning.
The book is not a long book. The book is not at all difficult to read. What the book is, is unbelievable in parts. It’s written as science and has notes for evidence (that I did not pursue) but there is definitely a lot of anthropomorphism throughout the book. The article titled Pitfalls of Anthropomorphism: The Hidden Life of Trees on The Odd Website explains why this is a problem far better than I can.
So, did I enjoy the book? I did. I read about a chapter a day for a while and then when on a walk, could see what the author was talking about. For instance, I always wondered how coniferous trees stayed green all year and in the book, Wohlleben explains that coniferous trees do shed their leaves, but not all at once. I noticed this that afternoon when passing a chain linked fence with thousands of pine needles hanging from it. (Of course I knew that pine needles fell off pine trees, but I think I needed that nudge to actually see it).
This happened many times over the course of reading the book this year. Not being a scientist, this book was written for me and if I am to be honest, I kind of liked the anthropomorphism. After all, I’ve named at least two trees in my life, and loved even more.
The impetus for wanting to finish the book this year was because I’d read The Overstory a couple of years ago and one of the characters in that book was based on a scientist whose work was cited often in The Hidden Life of Trees and who wrote a note at the end of the book. In The Overstory, the character wrote a book similar to The Hidden Life of Trees.
I’m glad I read it, I’m equally glad I finally finished it. Will I re-read it at some point? Probably not. Will I read Wohlleben’s other books? Probably not.
This book wasn’t really on my list of books I was interested in. I have read enough WW2 books to last more than one lifetime. The only thing that made me consider reading it was that Alexandra Robbins (an author and reader I trust) gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.
When my friend, Debra, chose it for her book group choice I wasn’t delighted, but believed Alexandra’s taste, so I bought it for Kindle and began reading it.
I really liked most of it. It inspired me do some internet searches on Bletchley Park. Dean and I watched The Imitation Game a few days ago because of my interest in Bletchley Park and Alan Turing. I liked most of the characters and it was plot-driven enough to make me want to pick it up to read often and keep reading past my bedtime.
There were things that I didn’t like about it though. One thing I don’t like is the romance. I am pretty sure if there was a novel written about the male code-breakers at Bletchley Park there would not be the romantic nonsense.
A second (and possibly petty) problem I have with the book is that in one scene when characters drive from Yorkshire to Milton Keynes the author writes:
“The Bentley was speeding past Blackpool now, well south of York…”.
The Rose Code — Kate Quinn
Blackpool is just barely North of York and there is no reason to drive through or near Blackpool to get to Milton Keynes, especially you are in a hurry. The only way they would drive past Blackpool is if Clockwell was closer to the West Coast. Clockwell’s location was never indicated except that to get there from Bletchley Park one had to drive through moors.
Finally, at the end of the book when many BP veterans are working on the Rose code, including Alan Turing, he’s described as “shifting from foot to foot” while someone else runs the bombe machine that he built.
Featured image created by Wombo Dream using the title of this post.