Review: Amaryllis in Blueberry
Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum
Publisher: Gallery (Simon & Schuster)
Meet the Slepys: Dick, the stern doctor, the naive husband, a man devoted to both facts and faith; Seena, the storyteller, the restless wife, a mother of four, a lover of myth. And their children, the Marys: Mary Grace, the devastating beauty; Mary Tessa, the insistent inquisitor; Mary Catherine, the saintly, lost soul; and finally, Amaryllis, Seena’s unspoken favorite, born with the mystifying ability to sense the future, touch the past and distinguish the truth tellers from the most convincing liar of all.
When Dick insists his family move from Michigan to the unfamiliar world of Africa for missionary work, he can’t possibly foresee how this new land and its people will entrance and change his daughters–and himself–forever.
Nor can he predict how Africa will spur his wife Seena toward an old but unforgotten obsession. In fact, Seena may be falling into a trance of her own. . . .
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a tendency to judge books by their covers and I mainly picked this one up because of the attracting cover. Even after reading the synopsis of the book, however, I had no idea what Amaryllis in Blueberry had in store for me. The novel is deeper and darker than the books I usually pick up during the school year, but at the same time it was a welcome change.
Meldrum is a wonderful writer and I really enjoyed reading her vivid descriptions of Africa as well as the descriptions of the African customs and culture. I haven’t read that many novels that take place in Africa and in fact, if I remember correctly, the last novel I read that took place in Africa was Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad in high school. So I was extremely please to find out that Meldrum has spent some time in Africa and was quite familiar with the place when she wrote the novel.
The story switches narrators and each chapter follows a different character. Some events are told from various views so the readers can see how each character reacts to the same event. It was a little confusing at first to figure out who was who especially since the Marys had similar names, but at the same time, I liked how you were able to see the different reactions from the characters and seeing everything through their eyes.
As the story progresses, the characters’ deepest and darkest secrets are slowly revealed to the readers. Despite living together and spending so much time together as a family, each character manages to keep the truth hidden from the others. But after the move to Africa, the truth comes out causing the family to unravel as they try to find a way to stay together as a family.
Overall, I thought Amaryllis in Blueberry was quite interesting and I enjoyed the way Meldrum weaved Christianity and Greek mythology into the story. I’ve heard from several people that Madapple was even better than this one so I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy of that one soon.