Thursday, October 16, 2008

Madapple by Christian Meldrum

Madapple was a gift from one of my very favorite bloggers, Deslily. And what a gift it was. This was one of those books that just seemed to be written for my exact taste in books. It was dark and melancholy and philosophical at times and piqued my interests non-stop. The amazing cover of this book truly captures the feel of the novel and kudos to Jonathan Barkat for putting it together. The picture to the left is the entire dust jacket with the text removed. Madapple is the story of a young girl named Aslaug who is seemingly born a virgin birth. She's raised by her mother who shelters her from the world during her youth and is a bit eccentric if not cruel at times. But there is love there beneath it all. Together they live in a home without electricity and their lives rely on the various flowers, plants, saps, and seeds that grow near their home. Maren, Aslaug's mother, uses various plants for their homeopathic purposes and uses them for everything from medicine to food to a way of escape. Her way of escape is Madapple, aka Jimson Weed, a plant that poisons the body to induce a high. Madapple, the plant, becomes the center of the story as the alternating chapters of the novel switch to Aslaug on trial for the death of her family and some other things that I can't mention without spoiling the novel. The people who died were found to have been killed by Madapple poisoning and when it is known that Aslaug would help her mother harvest the weed, she is tied to the killings. This is really a horrible description of the book, but I can't say much more at all without giving it away. But it's so much better than this review. While gloomy at times and certainly disparaging at times, this book remains warm to me. I get an instant feeling of nostalgia and warmth every time I think of this book and would feel the same way each time I picked it up. There are extreme religious themes to the novel as well, but they are not ideas that are shoved down your throat and they're not their to persuade you towards a religion. Nor do they focus on one particular religion. The ideas of paganism, early christianity, mythology, and eastern religion are all combined in a riveting story that at times reminded me of The Thirteenth Tale and The Historian in it's atmosphere and history. If their is a point to the religious subtext, it is that religion can be a dangerous thing when it is exploited and abused for one's own personal desires. This is a book that I highly recommend to anyone and though it is a little over 400 pages, I think it would be great for the read-a-thon with it's short chapters and fast paced story. --------------------------------------------------------------- I also wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone for not totally bashing my pumpkin :p That poor, poor cat was just never given a fair chance by my hand, but you all made me feel better during a week that has just sucked. Work has been so busy! It literally has not stopped and to top it all off I was told that I have to work this Friday which I had requested off at the beginning of September so that I could rest up for the read-a-thon. The good thing is, I still have off Saturday. The bad thing, I hope I can stay awake the whole time now! Coffee will indeed be my friend!

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