Thursday, September 17, 2009

White Oleander

by Janet Fitch
There were two reasons I resisted reading this book:
1. The edition I was given had the movie-adaptation cover rather than the original 'as designed' cover
2. It's an Oprah's book club book, and I resist Oprah's pretense of literary expertise.
However, it was sitting on the stack of books I haven't read yet and looked like it had really strong female characters, so I started in.
Right from the first page I was hooked on Astrid & Ingrid. The ferociousness of their mother-daughter bond. The intensity of their artistic spirits (Ingrid is a poet and Astrid is a visual artist). The tenacity with which Astrid clings to her sense of self and refuses to succumb to her circumstances - good or bad. They were amazing women to read about, though I hope I never meet an Ingrid.
And the role that Southern California plays in the story was also fascinating and deftly handled. I always like when the setting becomes a character in the story, and the heat, wind, humidity and drought of Los Angeles seasons is as active and changeable as any of the key women.
And, of course, the key role of a beautiful flower in this story hooks me, even though that role is a negative one. The symbolism of the flowers apparent beauty and purity justoposed to it's deadly poisons is a bit heavy-handed, but fascinating none-the-less.

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