Friday, May 20, 2011

SOLOMON'S OAK By Jo-Ann Mapson

The novel begins with three people who are lost and alone—who want to stay alone. Glory Solomon is a widow who is doing her best to take care of her farm with little money and no help. Using the church her husband built, she begins hosting weddings on her property. While hosting a pirate wedding (the first wedding she is hosting at her little chapel), her old friend and social worker begs her take Juniper a young 14-year old girl into her home for the night. Juniper abandoned by her father, orphaned by her mother…she was a casualty of her older sister’s disappearance. She is alone and wants to keep everyone at a distance, trusting no one. Glory reluctantly agrees to let the girl stay for one night only. But during this one night, Glory feels a sense of responsibility to the girl once she finds out her own connection in Juniper’s sister’s disappearance. As the wedding continues, swords are drawn and a stranger suddenly appears to ‘save the day’ with a gun in hand and a camera around his neck. The knight in shining armor so to say is, Joseph Vigil, a former Albuquerque police officer who was injured on the job and was is only staying for a few months at his grandmother’s old cabin.
The three lives are suddenly thrust together. Slowly over time, the three befriend each other. They all hold each other at an arm’s length until Juniper’s MIA father shows up, just as Juniper seems to be moving forward. His arrival causes a series of events to occur, which breaks down the walls they have all put up around themselves and open themselves up to what they were really feeling. As they finally admit to themselves how they feel about each other, it just might be too late.
Solomon’s Oak is a long story, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. There is so much beautiful descriptions and back story, while you are reading along it slows down events. I would say it adds much to the fullness of the story itself. For most of the book the chapters are really long. I’m personally not a fan of a long chapter. Near the end of the book there seems to be more breaks and I believe it read more quickly because of the breaks.
The back stories really help you catch up to whom the characters really are and what brought them to this point in time. The back story of Joseph lingers more slowly than either Glory or Juniper’s, which I didn’t feel as connected to him as a character, but I did really like him. At first the story really centers on Glory, but then moves separately on all three, so you see them more in depth. I love this approach. Glory really has her hands full with Juniper and yet she keeps on with her. Glory never sees her inner beauty, strength or how she seems to be a rescuer of people and not just her animals. At first I didn’t know how Glory could deal with everything she was dealing with on top of all that dealing with an ungrateful teenage girl, but because of the way Mapson centers on one character at a time, it really allows you to gain a greater appreciation for the young girl and truthfully I fell in love with Juniper. I couldn’t help but be angry how she doesn’t get a voice when her father comes back to town. You realize how she is like Glory, wanting to take care of those around her.
This was really a good book. I think what I enjoyed the best is the story was so down-to-earth, real. It had grittiness to it. This is a story with heart and soul in it. If you are looking for something to really warm your heart, this is the book.

Other books by Jo-Ann Mapson