With the heat beating down on all of us, I am loathing writing. I shall find drops of sweat beading down my face. Slowly dripping down onto the table and even worse, my laptop. All I want to do is migrate to colder climes or perhaps aestivate. The former is not possible at the moment, and the later would be messy because I am still sweating buckets even when there are two fans twirling at full speed.
Birds of Wonder is a book I started three days ago and I finished it today. It was not because this book was a long read, it was because I simply fell asleep every time I started reading it over the past two days. Waking up hot and irritated did not make me want to pick it up. I did not read any other book as well. But today, I set my mind to the task and with a wall mounted fan focussed on me and I finished the book.
Cynthia Robinson‘s Birds of Wonder has an interesting blurb. It is about a dead girl, Amber Inglin. Her body is found on a field with one of her hands severed. Amber is discovered by her teacher, Beatrice Ousterhout, and she is found lying on the field of her employer and child services advocate, Liam Walsh. The person investigating this case, Jesca Ashton, is Beatrice’s daughter. And Jesca is someone with a string of one night stands behind her, a very-married Liam Walsh is one of them. It is all a muddle of relationships between people.
Though I call it a muddle, Cynthia Robinson has managed to keep a tight rein on it. She makes it a point to let us know that all these characters have known each other, yet keeps the complexity of the relationship simply understandable to the reader. The relationship between Jesca and her mother, Jesca and Liam, all of it are rendered well. The investigation takes us through the lives of six different people and the story is told from their perspectives – their understanding of the circumstances and of each other. Even though it has a mystery, I would not classify it as a book belonging to this genre. The death is just a happy incident gone wrong, but it does shake up everyone’s life. Six people who have somehow known Amber had their lives changed forever because of Amber’s death.
Frankly, I picked up the book because I loved the cover. But after reading it I found the writing beautiful as well. Somehow, all the emotional drama of these people are captured without being overly dramatic. It was a good read, though I wouldn’t give the mystery part of it any due. Birds of Wonder is a book that knows how to focus on humans and their flights of fancy. You will be disappointed if you are waiting for an “Aha!” moment because this book really is not a thriller. Pick it up for the writing and the characters, their lives and the aftershocks following a death.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars