What a Treat

I want an amaryllis. A particular one. Maybe I already have it, as I already have four growing in pots around my home.

As I wrote yesterday, I’m reading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. And loving it. One of the characters is called Mary Treat. The details about are are so convincing, her research so fascinating I wondered if she was real, or if she was  a creation from BK’s fertile imagination.

So a few minutes ago I turned to the internet and found Mary Treat was a real person, a botanist, as she is in the novel, a woman who corresponded with Darwin among other celebrated scientists, who made a living writing about her observations and experiments.  She was self taught, a respected name in the scientific world. All this at a time when few women studied the sciences.

She has an amaryllis named after her, as well as three other species of plant and animal. Wow.

Her character is not the only reason I am enjoying the book. I may have to copy out chunks of chapter 5, . Take this about another character, Willa, on her father-in-law’s choice of radio station:

She knew what he wanted: jocular, obscenely confident commentators who disparaged any kind of progressive thinking, egged on by callers who were angry abouteven the most basic modern social arrangements. Gay marriage aside, some of these people seemed incensed that their kids had to attend racially integrated schools. They were offended to distraction by the idea of a nonwhite man at the helm of their great nation. Probably they weren’t completely sold on female suffrage. These callers were clinging to a century-old vision of America, and Willa preferred to forget such people existed.

Wow again. Page 99 in the hard back copy if you are interested.

There is a sentence later on I don’t understand at all. I can’t locate it now, but if/when I do I shall hope some of you readers from across the pond can help me out. I’m not sure if she writes about the British National Trust deliberately, or if it’s a mistake. We have a National Trust that covers England Wales and Northern Ireland, and a Scottish one.


There’s a lot about wilful ignorance in this, so it may be a deliberate name change.

Happy reading.

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