Kaya McLaren’s latest book, The Road to Enchantment, made me feel like I was a child curled up at my grandmother’s feet, listening intently as she told me the story of her life – or at least the first part of it.
The book blends story and information on a range of subjects, such as wine making, music and Native American culture. She weaves words to make a rich tapestry full of colour.
Here’s the (rather long) blurb:
As a young girl, Willow watched her mother leave their home in Washington State in a literal blaze of glory: she set the mattress of her cheating husband on fire in her driveway, roasting marshmallow peeps and hot dogs before the fire department arrived.
And with that, she and Willow set off to New Mexico, to a new life, to a world of arroyos and canyons bordering an Apache reservation. Willow was devastated. Her eccentric mother believed in this new life and set about starting a winery and goat ranch. But for Willow, it meant initially being bullied and feeling like an outsider. Today, as a grown woman, Willow much prefers Los Angeles and her job as a studio musician. But things tend to happen in threes: her mother dies, her boyfriend dumps her, and Willow discovers she is pregnant.
The DeVine Winery and Goat Ranch is all she has left, even if it is in financial straits and unmanageable back taxes. There is something, though, about the call of “home.” She’s surprised to find that her Apache best friend Darrel along with the rest of the community seems to think she belongs far more than she ever thought she did. Can Willow redefine what home means for her, and can she make a go of the legacy her mother left behind?
Told with Kaya McLaren’s humor and heart, The Road to Enchantment is a story about discovering that the last thing you want is sometimes the one thing you need.
The chapters switch between past and present, which takes a bit of getting used to but actually gives the story the energy I think it needs to keep the reader interested.
It’s clear Kaya is very insightful – not least on what it must be like to feel like an outsider in your formative years, with never any chance of fitting in. I got a real sense of Willow’s loneiness and frustration not just with her mother but also when she visited her father and his new family. Thank goodness for Darrel, who was her saviour. It was also lovely to feel the community gather around her, as an adult, and make her feel safe and wanted.
I became quickly invested in Willow’s story and by the end I was willing her to make it.
If you’re looking for a sweet, gentle and endearing read, this one is for you.
My rating: Three and a half stars.
I received this book as an ARC (via NetGalley) in return for an honest review.