Apr 15th, 2011 by Marilyn
Solomon’s Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson
Glory Solomon is a widow who is not sure where her life is going to take her. Juniper McGuire is a teenager who has suffered a great tragedy and is trying to figure out where she fits in. Joseph Vigil is an ex-crime lab photographer whose dream is to photograph California’s giant trees. One day their paths meet at Solomon’s Oak.
From Bloomsbury Publishing:
Solomon’s Oak is the story of three people who have suffered losses that changed their lives forever.
Glory Solomon, a young widow, holds tight to her memories while she struggles to hold on to her Central California farm. She makes ends meet by hosting weddings in the chapel her husband had built under their two-hundred-year-old white oak tree, known locally as Solomon’s Oak. Fourteen-year-old Juniper McGuire is the lone survivor of a family decimated by her sister’s disappearance. She arrives on Glory’s doorstep, pierced, tattooed, angry, and homeless. When Glory’s husband Dan was alive, they took in foster children, but Juniper may be more than she can handle alone. Joseph Vigil is a former Albuquerque police officer and crime lab photographer who was shot during a meth lab bust that took the life of his best friend. Now disabled and in constant pain, he arrives in California to fulfill his dream of photographing the state’s giant trees, including Solomon’s Oak.
In Jo-Ann Mapson’s deeply felt, wise, and gritty novel, these three broken souls will find in each other an unexpected comfort, the bond of friendship, and a second chance to see the miracles of everyday life.
Book Club Party Ideas for Solomon’s Oak
Be sure to include the following in you decor:
- Cake decorating supplies to represent Glory’s new livelihood
- Blue Jay to represent Junipers tattoo and what the blue color meant to her
- Camera to represent Joseph and his passion for photography
- Leaves to represent Solomon’s Oak, I chose to display blue leaves
- Marguerite Daisy Poster, Dan’s favorite flower
This Blue Bird with Leaf Plate is a great statue that would go perfectly with your Solomon’s Oak book club decorations.
The Butterfly Creek General Store, owned by Glory’s friend Lorna, has every inch of the walls covered with signs.
On Glory and Juniper’s first outing to buy clothes, they finally let down their guards on the ride home and found the funnier side of life – the black cows chewing their cud, a jacked-up pickup with a nerdy driver at the wheel, and the song “Canned Ham” by Norman Greenbaum playing on the oldies station. You can find this song on the Spirit in the Sky: Best of Norman Greenbaum.
One evening when Juniper fell asleep with her head in Glory’s lap, Glory sang her “The Trees” by Rush. “The oak trees, selfishly hoarding sunlight, were no match for the maple trees that organized like Teamsters bearing hatchets, axes, and saws. Glory substituted junipers for the maple trees, and though that ruined the rhyme scheme, the song held up just fine.”
Book Club Menu for Solomon’s Oak
This meal is inspired by Juniper’s favorite foods. Glory made this dinner for Juniper on the evening she needed to break some news to her.
- Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce served with Garlic Bread
- Romaine salad with blue cheese dressing
- Diet Vanilla Coke over crushed ice
- Red-Velvet cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting
Serve the meal on Franciscan Desert Rose Dinnerware. This is the china that Dan’s mother had left them.
Other Menu Options
- At the Pirate Wedding, Glory served roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, baguette bread, and apples and oranges in bushel baskets. For drink, she served mead (honey wine), lemon bumble (vodka, heavy on the lemons, to prevent scurvy), and grog (basically a bucket of rum with fruit thrown in). And of course, a pirate-ship fondant cake. This was the day that Glory, Juniper and Joseph’s paths cross.
- Joseph liked to sit at the coffee shop cafes. “The Woodpecker was for BLTs. The King City Truck Stop was for breakfasts, 24-7. Butterfly Creek was for turkey on sourdough and pizza. Chicken salad was for women.”
- Lorna served maple donuts at her general store that she called Vermont life preservers. Lorna shouldn’t eat them because she has diabetes but she reasons, “Maple comes from a tree, dearie. That makes it a vegetable in my book.”
- Lorna hosts a honky-tonk Christmas each year in her store. This year she served Santa Maria tri-tip beef, arroz con pollo (rice and chicken dish), taquitoes (a corn tortilla rolled tightly with beef, chicken or cheese then deep fried) with guacamole, nopales (edible cactus leaves) salad and pineapple dessert tamales.
- The menu for the Winter Solstice Wedding consisted of champagne, mulled cider, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, twice-baked potato casserole, roasted baby carrots, cranberry/orange gelato, snowflake sugar cookies, fondant poinsettia red-velvet cake.
- On an outing to the beach for a picnic, Glory fried chicken and packed an apple, carrot, and raisin salad and cupcakes.
Book Club Resources for Solomon’s Oak
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.92 stars (184 reviews)|
|Amazon: 4.6 stars (16 reviews)|
|Barnes & Noble: 4.3 stars (13 reviews)|
|My Rating: 4.5 stars – I enjoyed this story and was rooting for the characters to find the happiness they deserve.|
- Why did the author include the story “The Headless Lady of Jolon?”
- Did Glory do a good job as a foster parent, despite her uncertainties? Do you think Dan would have been proud of her?
- What did Solomon’s Oak represent to each of the main characters?
- Why did the color blue have special meaning to Juniper? What did this color symbolize?
Purchase the Book
The Author and Awards
Jo-Ann Mapson grew up in Californian as a middle child with four siblings. She earned a creative writing degree at California State University, Long Beach. After earning a graduate degree from Vermont College’s low residency program, she taught at Orange Coast College for six years before turning to full-time writing in 1996. Mapson is the author of the following works:
Hank & Chloe
Shadow Ranch: A Novel
Loving Chloe: A Novel
The Wilder Sisters
Bad Girl Creek: A Novel
Along Came Mary: A Bad Girl Creek Novel
Goodbye, Earl: A Bad Girl Creek Novel (Bad Girl Creek Novels)
The Owl & Moon Cafe: A Novel
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