Wonderful 5-star review of Every Blade of Grass

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by Hugh Griffith on Amazon

“Every Blade of Grass by Thomas Wharton starts with a letter left at the front desk of a hotel in Iceland. The recipient, Martha, is a neophyte journalist from New York and the sender is a young biologist from Vancouver. Very quickly the story progresses as a series of letters back and forth between these two in the pre-internet age. I had my doubts that this approach would be sustainable for an entire book, but it works, 1) because there are intervals of 3rd person narration, particularly when situations arise for which it is difficult for a character to find words, 2) because of the addition of a 3rd distinct voice, Martha’s cousin, a lively spirit named Nancy, and 3) because many of the letters are almost stand-alone stories as the characters, especially James, travel to all corners of the world—the Arctic, Antarctica, Amazonia, Indonesia, Nepal, central China… An odd and entertaining cast of characters is introduced in these places, whose words and actions become touchstones for the main characters.

My first misgivings went out the window – the structure is compelling. I always wanted to read the next letter, and then the next one, and then the next… I found myself studying the dates as the years clicked by, remembering what was happening within my own life on those exact days. You feel your own story growing and changing with those of James and Martha. Finally, there is a fun back-and-forth as the characters regale each other with odd facts, mostly about natural history.

I read this novel in almost a single sitting, which is something I am rarely able to do. Many times last night I waved the book–well, the kindle–at my wife and said, “This book is wonderful. You have to read it!”

This book is wonderful. You have to read it!”

Comments

  1. Anne Thompson says:

    I have just finished Every Blade of Grass. I read it slowly and I just loved it. I found it very meditative except for Nancy’s letters which brought small breaks in the meditative narrative but which also brought a little humor into the story. Michael’s death was shocking; I did not see that coming at all. The ending was sad which I also didn’t expect but I suspect these are the things that make it such a great book. I didn’t want it to end. This is the third book I have read that is written in a letter format. Have you read 84 Charing Cross Road (also made into a movie with Anne Bancroft) and The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society? I can’t remember where that bizarre title came from. I think your book would do really well out here. I am going to lend my copy to a friend who works in our bookstore. She has been in the book business for many years. I also want to buy two copies, I will have to check your site again to find out how to do that.

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