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Comments 22

Amaryllis in Blueberry

Amaryllis in Blueberry ***** (excellent)

by

Christina Meldrum

Amaryllis in Blueberry

“In Meldrum’s intoxicating first adult novel (after 2010’s Madapple) a family undertakes West African missionary work only to find its members profoundly transformed. Polish-American pathologist Dick Slepy lives with his bohemian wife, Christina “Seena,” in Danish Landing, Mich. They have four daughters, each following the other by two years. There’s pretty Mary Grace, now 18. Mary Catherine is “always-obedient” and pious, whereas Mary Tessa is a “trouble-maker-in-training,” and the precocious Amaryllis, their youngest at 11, is an “emotional synesthete,” who tastes, smells, and otherwise “consumes” the pain, rage, love, or joy of others, and is suspiciously dark-featured. Fearing that his wife is having an affair, Dick seeks the council of his local priest, Father Amadi, who suggests the Slepys take a mission to West Africa to help his nephew, Mawuli, run an aid organization. They go, but the mission is anything but the salve Dick had hoped for, and one event after another…shove the family into deep crisis. With every chapter, Meldrum jumps viewpoints and shifts time and space…her combination of coming-of-age and culture clash narratives has a seductive intensity.”
   —Publishers Weekly

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I’m joining Jain @ Food for Thought  and Mary @ Home is Where the Boat is.

Reading books and sharing edible reviews together, this year 22 books have been chosen and if you would like to join in this special way of reading and creating, please contact these two lovely ladies for the years reading list. This month’s review was Amaryllis in Blueberry of course obvious as is, my sweet recipes all included blueberries.

bluelberries 010 Petite pikelets with Blueberry yoghurt & Blueberries

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Pikelets are delicate and light, a ‘quick’ mixture. The mixture is in between a pancake and crepe. A wonderful surprise for breakfast served with fresh luscious yoghurt and blueberries.

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Amaryllis in Blueberry was an interesting read, it wasn’t an easy read for me, (probably because I have too many books on the go at the moment), however once I had read the first few chapters I couldn’t put it down. As you read the pages of this remarkable book, you get to know each character, and family member.

In the stirring tradition of The Secret Life of Bees and The Poisonwood Bible, Amaryllis in Blueberryexplores the complexity of human relationships set against an unforgettable backdrop. Told through the haunting voices of Dick and Seena Slepy and their four daughters, Christina Meldrum’s soulful novel weaves together the past and the present of a family harmed—and healed—by buried secrets.

Maybe, unlike hope, truth couldn’t be contained in a jar. . . .

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.

“With Amaryllis in Blueberry, Christina Meldrum has woven a beautifully layered, intensely emotional story, with unforgettable characters whose voices will remain with you long after their secrets have been revealed.”
   —Michelle Richmond, author of the New York Times and international bestseller The Year of Fog

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Amaryllis in Blueberry is a rich, evocative story about an unusual family that will sweep readers away to another place and time. Amaryllis’s voice is a spellbinding and unique blend of naiveté and wisdom. A perfect melding of family saga, murder mystery and a meditation on faith, loyalty and love, this novel will both haunt and entertain you.”
   —Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author

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Connecting to Christina Meldrum on her official sitethere are wonderful book/reader guides and interesting Q & A. I’ve shared a few with you…


Did you intend from the start to have religion be a key theme in the novel, or is it an aspect of the storyline that developed during the writing process?

A: I see religion less as a theme in Amaryllis in Blueberry, more as a vehicle by which I explored other themes, particularly truth and the corresponding power of perspective. Similar to the role of Greek mythology and African mythology—and myth-making in general—religion was a means by which certain characters in the novel made sense of their world and of themselves. Because of this, religion provided an avenue to explore other themes in the novel, including justice, contrition and obsession. In these respects, I did intend from the outset to have religion play a key role.

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Seena is fascinated by mythology, and even the novel’s title draws on a Greek myth. Is this a topic in which you had an interest prior to writing Amaryllis in Blueberry?

A:I’ve wondered—and continue to wonder—whether each of our lives is a story at some level: a myth we create. How is our sense of reality and identity influenced by our memory, by our perspective, by our reflection on past events? Seena was a person who struggled with her own life story, because it was a painful life story in many respects. Was she drawn to mythology because others’ stories were safer for her, more palatable to her? Perhaps, but how accurate was her perception of her own life? Was the love she shared with Dick a mere myth, as she came to believe? Was the love she shared with Heimdall a myth as well? Or was it her spinning of these experiences the myths-in-making? And what of Yllis? Her entire life’s story was built on myth: the myth of the blueberry field; the myth of Amaryllis. Yet Yllis was a person who saw beyond myth, whether she wanted to or not. No matter the myths people created for themselves—and of themselves—Yllis sensed feeling; she could see beyond people’s words. Still, truth ultimately evaded even Yllis. Was Yllis right, then, that truth is necessarily elusive, “that it can’t be contained in a jar”? Are myths essential to our understanding of ourselves and our world? Personally, I think they may be.

Fascinating is the title of the book, and refers to a Greek myth – the myth of Amaryllis. Seena summarizes the myth for us in the book:images11

…so in love was Amaryllis with the shepherd boy Alteo that day after day she stood on his doorstep and pierced her heart in an attempt to win is love. But Alteo had no interest in girls: he loved only flowers. It made no difference how many times Amaryllis pierced her heart; Alteo paid no heed. Then a miracle happened; on the very spot where Amaryllis’s blood had fallen, a beautiful flower bloomed. When Alteo saw the flower, he fell in love with Amaryllis, and he named the blood red flower Amaryllis in her honor”

Our season for fresh blueberries has ended, (deep sigh) I often include fresh blueberries on my breakfast cereal. I opted for the tinned blueberries for these recipes. I was surprised by the texture and wonderful flavour. One of my favourite smoothies is banana and blueberry…

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bluelberries 016 bluelberries 012 bluelberries 018 I also indulged in a little trifle…served in long stemmed glasses. Petite Swiss rolls, filled with strawberry jam. Vanilla custard, raspberry jelly and blueberry yoghurt and berries, mmmmm……..

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“Spellbinding.”
   —Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author

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“A uniquely memorable read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”
   —Carol Cassella, National Bestselling author of Oxygen and Healer

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“A beautifully layered, intensely emotional story, with unforgettable characters.”
   —Michelle Richmond, author of the New York Times and international bestseller The Year of Fog

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Amaryllis in Blueberry, is a novel as you read each page you continually escape into the lives and characters of all the players. Players of an intriguing family. I loved this novel and certainly enjoyed creating all these ‘sweet’ treats with blueberries. A wonderful novel to add to your bookshelves.

Amaryllis in Blueberry

Have a wonderful day, my friends,and Enjoy!

Visit other reviews of the same book:

Jain @ Food for Thought

Mary @ Home is Where the Boat is

Sarah @ Hyacinths For the Soul

Kathy@   A Delightsome Life: Home & Garden Thursday

Yvette…x

22 Comments

  1. oh yippee, another fantastic review from you! so glad you are joining in and loved the book too~

    those look so delicious… i am having blueberry salad for dinner and could oh so happy dump that and make those pikelets!

    loved your q&a tucked in, i read a few of her words too, don’t you love reading and really exploring after the fact to share for food for thought? we get to read, research, connect, create and even eat their words, i love love love playing with my books! and watching others… especially when we all read the same books, we can connect on a visual level. your photos are so making me hungry, you created so many treats for my eyes… i love your mary and cross.

    wonderful wonderful review, i thank you so much for joining in, what a treat, literally to read with you!

    ps we have upped our books to 24, in sept we added a 2 for 1 series, chickens, mules and two old fools, and the sequel two old fools, ole for the on sept 21st, if the shoe fits has been moved to the 7th~

    thank you so much for joining in, my blueberry salad is gonna be really dull after reading this….

    • HI Jain, So true of your comments, it’s a wonderful way to connect, and it certainly is such a pleasurable way to review a book. I now read with a pencil in hand to highlight the many details where it might be an interesting note, or scene that I think my readers would enjoy with me. I had so many ideas for this novel, and yes I find it interesting to do a little research on the author. Christina Meldrums home site is wonderfully colourful and she shares many insights into why she included many elements in her writing of Amaryllis in Blueberry. Can’t wait to connect to your post and see the many other creative ones. Thank you for hosting on Food for Thought.Have an enjoyable evening. x

      • i must say kindle books are so perfect for food for thought, you can highlight everything you like and bookmark passages/pages/recipes/thoughts etc. one year i cooked 168 books for fft, i was so sick of post it notes, reams of paper everywhere it was EXHAUSTING, that’s when kindle became my best friend 🙂

        … but i bought this book for the cover, its just gorgeous don’t you think~

        i want to read madapple too, along with 300 other books sitting around the house!

  2. Hi Yvette~ My laptop is cranky this morning~ this is my third attempt to comment so I hope third time is the charm for me!

    Loved your review with your Q & A section included! I read over that briefly too. I think I was distracted when I read this book, too many irons in the fire so it didn’t resonate with me like it did for you & Jain!

    I’ve never heard of pikelets~ they look like something I could sink my teeth into this morning for breakfast! Yes, it looks like we were on the same page with FFT with the yogurt and trifle 🙂

    Thanks so much for joining in the fun with your beautiful review! I love the rosary you included and your gorgeous roses! I hope you plan to continue to read along throughout the year with us! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Mary, always a delight visiting Home is Where the Boat is…you are an inspiration and I enjoy every minute of FFT. I’m so enjoying creating book reviews with a twist! Have a wonderful weekend, too.

  3. Pingback: Amaryllis in Blueberry | Home is Where the Boat Is

  4. Your photography within this post is really quite stunning, Yvette. That rose is gorgeous and this is how trifles are meant to be served, so very appealing. Well done!

    • The last of the roses, picked from my mums garden. A huge seasonal Autumn change the last couple of days! x

  5. Yvette…OMGoodness!!! Once again your photos astonish me. I don’t know why I should say that. I guess because with every post your photos become more and more captivating!

    I must say that I am totally hungry now that I’ve seen them, and the fact I haven’t really had my breakfast, yet makes it all the more wanting to taste those scrumptious looking delights. The pikelets look soooo good. Each successive photo was more and more tantalizing. Thank you for sharing the recipe…I’ll definitely have to try those. And now more than ever I really want to purchase a good blender, too.

    Yes, I agree, your photos are STUNNING!

    By the way, the book sounds intriguing, but I must say that, as one who has lived her life consuming the emotions of others, it’s a very physically dangerous thing to do. It eventually wreaks havoc on the parasympathetic system. I wonder how the girl manages it in the book.

    Wishing you a day full of God’s favor,
    Marianne xox

    • Have a fabulous day- Pikelets are a delight of a treat for breakfast, quick, light and fluffy, and always a winner for the children. I remember my Mom and even my Dad making them for me as a child, it was our Sunday morning treat! x

  6. Yvette, this is a fabulous review. I like how you included the Book Club questions. I didn’t even read them. Should have ~ you and Jain both found wonderful inspiration there. I’ll remember that! I liked this book, but it was a difficult read for me. I recommended it to my husband. He, too, thought it was excellent, but didn’t have the same emotional reaction to some of it as I did. In the end, I decided to keep my photos simple. It’s such a visual treat to see how you and Jain and Mary shared on this one. I love FFT! It leads me to books I wouldn’t otherwise select and makes me really connect with what I’m reading. I linked your post to mine. ~ Sarah

    • Hi Sarah, FFT is a new and exciting way to review books I agree, and how we all so differently create our posts, but also are linked together. Agreed, a visual treat! Thank you for linking, I’ll be sure to do the same. Have a great weekend! x

  7. Hello Yvette, Gorgeous post – so beautifully connecting the book review and the recipes – beautifully photographed! I will be featuring your post in tonight’s Home and Garden Thursday,
    Thank you,
    Kathy

  8. Pingback: Home and Garden Thursday

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