Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders
by Julianna Baggott
Back in March, I read Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders for my book club. I’m not going to lie . . . I did not like this book. The story follows one family through four generations. It is filled with heartbreak, abandonment, loneliness, and only the very slightest bit of hope at the end (if you look for it). There are four narrators, which makes the flow a little confusing until you get the hang of it. The first is Harriet who is a writer and has a mysterious 7th book that she hid before she died – and many people are looking for it. She was raised in a home after her mother thought she had died in childbirth. Later, when the truth comes out, she returns to live with her parents until her mother dies and then her father once again turns her out. Her parents are the first generation and do not narrate, but the theme of abandonment starts with them. Harriet falls in love with Eppitt Clapp and has his daughter. However, through heartbreaking circumstances, Eppitt never meets his daughter and he and Harriett are separated for life. Eleanor is Harriet’s daughter and the second narrator. She herself is left alone when her husband leaves her and her two daughters for another woman. Her two daughters also narrate the story. The first is Ruth, who becomes rebellious and runs away, marrying and divorcing twice. The second is Tilton, who is sheltered by Eleanor her entire life, believing she has many allergies/illnesses. The general plot is the story of the women figuring out their lives: where they came from and where they are going. Everything, including most of the answers they are looking for, are in Harriet’s seventh book. Spoiler: Tilton finds the book in the end and you assume they read it and start repairing their lives and finding happiness.
Summing it up: I definitely did not enjoy this book. It was too disjointed with the four voices, too sad, and, frankly, it was weird. It did engage my curiosity enough that I finished it, but overall I did not enjoy it.
All the best, Abbey