Solomon’s Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson
Glory Solomon’s husband has been dead for almost a year and she is struggling. She has bills to pay and daily chores around the farm that would ordinarily consume two strong adults. And she is still grieving. Her daily companions are her dogs and horses acquired during better days when she and her husband Dan ran a rescue center for abandoned animals. In those days, life revolved around raising foster children, training animals, and doting on each other. Now her primary goal is to survive. She decides to host weddings in a small chapel Dan built on their property under a massive two hundred year old oak tree known in the community as Solomon’s Oak.
The opening scene describes Glory preparing for her first avant-garde ceremony, a pirate wedding. Amidst the chaos, caught off-guard, Glory reluctantly agrees to take in a new foster child, a troubled fourteen year old girl with body piercing and a tattoo, bad manners and a bad attitude. As a side plot, there is a romance in Solomon’s Oak. Well, not much emotion, and no physical contact because Glory is suspicious, crabby, and withdrawn most of the time….but I guess you could say “romance”.
There are some good things about this contemporary novel. You will learn alot of facts about trees and dog training and get detailed descriptions on cake decorating. There is an eccentric, sassy, older woman named Lorna who makes some entertaining reading. And, I must say, the prologue is beautiful. But the narrative was very predictable, from the plot line to the characters. You can guess the only other wedding described besides the pirate affair is a lesbian celebration. Pirates and lesbians! And the characters are as flat as paper doll cutouts. To compensate for Glory’s weak character development, Mapson had to juxtapose Glory with her sister Halle. Halle was portrayed as a loathsome figure; shallow, rude, selfish, materialistic, and bossy. Mapson implied that anyone who doesn’t adore other people’s dogs and likes nice clothing and good cars must be an inferior person. Then just to make everything come out “happy” at the end, Halle apologizes for her deficiencies “of getting joy out of shopping and mixing drinks”, does a complete turn-around, and agrees to help at the farm. So goes the entire plot. The troubled foster child suddenly becomes a happy well adjusted child and the ex-cop who avoids Glory because she is unpleasant suddenly falls in love with her. Perhaps the plot is feasible but the author does not adequately describe details of how this all happens.
All the ingredients were there to make a terrific novel, but by the third quarter I found myself skimming and wishing it were just over so I could move on to a good book.
Rated 2 Stars