The lesson Soli has to teach...is a salient one for the modern world: even a remote citrus ranch can be a crossroads where cultures collide, and those collisions can be life-changing for everyone involved. Soli writes with patience and wisdom about both sides of this relationship, allowing both of her central female characters the freedom to be eccentric and inconsistent, but also to learn from each other.
Jane Smiley - New York Times Book Review
Soli, who made a splash with her debut, The Lotus Eaters, will captivate readers again with this twisting, intriguing tale of a grieving California woman. Claire and her husband, Forster, live an idyllic life on a citrus farm in California with their three children until their 10-year-old son is murdered in a robbery. Fifteen years later, Claire and Forster have divorced, their eldest daughters are grown, and Claire is diagnosed with breast cancer. Alone on the ranch, she needs a helping hand, and along comes Minna, a mysterious young beauty. The two women forge a co-dependent bond, and Claire sinks deeper under Minna’s spell, even though she senses danger lurking beneath. Though the story is slow and befuddling at times, Soli successfully paints an intimate portrait of two vulnerable women trying to make sense of their separately tragic lives—and becoming eerily entwined for their efforts. With her knack for beautiful prose and striking detail, this is a solid follow-up to her debut.
When life hands you lemons...burn down the lemon tree. The author of the best seller The Lotus Eaters gives us a very different but equally compelling novel about finding what's worth fighting to preserve and the act of surviving in all its moral complexity. The main character, Claire, marries into a family that owns a citrus farm in southern California. When the loss of their son tears her and her husband apart, Claire fights to protect her two daughters from further loss.... Verdict: A lush, haunting novel for readers who appreciate ambiguity, this work should establish Soli as a novelist with depth and broad scope. —Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ. Lib., Marshall, VA
The fate of a struggling Southern California citrus farm shifts after the arrival of a mysterious Haitian woman. The second novel by Soli (The Lotus Eaters, 2010) centers on Claire, the matriarch of an orchard that's been the source of plenty of financial and emotional heartbreak. Her young son was killed there, and the aftermath of his death drove a wedge between her and her husband and two daughters. Years later, when Claire is diagnosed with breast cancer, she begins to search for live-in help and is introduced to Minna, a young woman...[whose background] isn't quite what she's claimed it was. This book aspires to be a multilayered story about class and race distinctions...[but Soli's] noble goal is undercut somewhat by baggy, sometimes pedantic storytelling.... (Soli's affinity for sentence fragments amplifies the prose's stiff feel.) Minna's own section of the novel, which chronicles her travels from Haiti to Miami to California, features some of Soli's most engaging writing, though it owes a clear debt to the troubled Haitian heroines of the works of Edwidge Danticat. Ambitious but overripe.
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