All Set About with Fever Trees
All of the protagonists of these stories find that their lives are inextricably connected to the lives of others. An essential part of their growth is to discover the meaning of that connection. Though each of the discoveries yields a perfect moment of maturation, it is but a design within a much larger fabric. The vision of the author is ultimately a conciliatory one: Life carries a meaning that becomes accessible to all who are sensitive to its exquisite chemistry.
In the story called “In Darkness,” ten-year-old Jennifer returns from a summer with her grandparents in Hamilton and learns that her mother has curiously changed. In “World of Women,” thirteen-year-old Mark goes on a hike with his swimming teacher Sara and finds that the lessons he learned in the water become crucial on land.
In the title story, Annie Vess remembers how her grandmother Mariah Palmer, at age sixty, left to teach at a mission in the Belgian Congo. Annie was eight then, and only now, with a daughter of her own, does she begin to understand her grandmother’s motives. Sixteen-year-old Beau Clinton, in “This Heat,” dies of a bad heart, leaving his divorced mother--who is only thirty-two--to confront her life, and her former husband.
Pam Durban’s stories are beautifully crafted, full of local color and rich in specific detail. The themes they contain are universal--love, death, courage, loyalty and attachment--and they are orchestrated with delicacy and much concern for their trueness. Durban narrates with ease, building into her stories a wisdom that we cannot but carry back into our own lives.