The Box Garden

boxgardenI haven’t read anything by Carol Shields since high school.  I stumbled across this book at my very well stocked Salvation Army story and couldn’t resist giving it a try.

First of all, I really enjoyed this book.  It was a good read with interesting characters.  Well written.

It’s the story of Charleen, a divorcee, traveling to Toronto to attend the wedding of her elderly mother.  It has all the pieces you’d expect – leaving behind an awkward situation or two at home, walking in to strange family dynamics and mixed emotions as families change.  With a few twists thrown in to keep you interested.

However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a whole other level of the novel that I just wasn’t seeing.  Perhaps it’s just flashbacks to my high school English class, but I kept looking for symbolism and wondering where the bunny holes were heading.

By all appearances, the book is set in the 1970s in Vancouver and Toronto and I found it interesting how much has changed in that time.  In particular, as I was reading I was thinking that Charleen was considerably older, only to discover she’s in her late thirties.  She acts older than her thirties, though, to be fair, her life hasn’t been easy.

I would definitely recommend this book to those who like reading.  The prose is a little dense and Shields loves her descriptive passages, but as a whole the book really holds together and is enjoyable.

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