I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
On the flight home from Vancouver to Melbourne, I should have been reading The Cardturner by Louis Sachar. That was my gift voucher book from The Red Balloon Bookshop in Minneapolis (I never did figure out why I needed more gifts when they’d just thrown me a party, but who ever looked a gift book in the mouth?).Visit Wendy Orr's blog.
I hope that was the attitude of whoever next sat in my seat from Vancouver to Los Angeles, because, tucked into the seat pocket with the emergency instructions, they would have found a nice new hardback copy of The Cardturner. I do hope they enjoyed the surprise of it, as well as the book. (Maybe they could write the next blog!)
So, five minutes before boarding that last 15 hour leg, I finished going through all the hand luggage, realised that I truly was bookless, and bolted to the bookstore. There was no leisure for browsing for a new author. Barbara Kingsolver happened to be the first familiar name, and I grabbed The Bean Trees, her first book, which I had never read. (My father first introduced me to Kingsolver, with the gift of High Tide in Tucson, so there was a sentimental link to the choice, as I was returning from his 80th birthday celebrations.)
And The Bean Trees was a gift of another sort, a gift to read and discover. I just loved it. It doesn’t read like a first novel; it’s fresh and original, but the voice is assured and skilled. The book itself is funny, tender and insightful. Taylor Greer, who’s been determined to escape pregnancy and the poverty of her small Kentucky hometown, drives off across the country and, literally, picks up a baby along the way… She’s eccentric, totally believable, and I loved her as a character.
So, sad as I was to lose my gift book, I’m grateful that it led me to this twenty-two-year old book, which has gone into my all time favourites list.