May Attaway has just turned forty, and most of her life revolves around her gardening job at the local university. When she gets some time off, she decides to spend it visiting old friends that she’s lost touch with over the years. As she puts it, “It seems to me that your oldest friends can offer a glimpse of who you were from a time before you had a sense of yourself and that’s what I’m after.”
May is private, prickly, and solitary, but not unkind. She just loves and understands plants more than people, understandably. Her backstory and family life is revealed bit by bit. As this is narrated in the first person, May is up-front about the fact that she’s only sharing peeks. She’s where she is in life for many different reasons, and it feels real and true that she’d want to find herself again through old friends.
I enjoyed how much of May’s passion for trees is explored in the book. There’s a great, beautiful scene with an ancient yew (and a good friend), toward the end of the story. May’s love and respect for plants is lovely to read about. All of the references are nicely done–there’s a lot about classical literature, too. In all, it’s time well-spent in someone else’s head–May is so observant and detail-oriented!
This is a quiet, funny, charming read about friendship and growth. A nice fit for a time of year when a lot of us do our visiting with old friends and new.