The Blessing Stone
The web site for this novel (www.theblessingstone.com) contains a note from its editor, perplexed that Wood, a bestselling author in Europe, has never achieved prominence in the USA. Her epic novels aren’t written on the same scale as Michener’s or Rutherfurd’s, but her characters are more interesting, her storytelling more fluid, her research just as good, plus her writing has a spiritual flavor that the others lack. In short, I can’t explain it either.
Wood’s latest effort retells the entire history of the world through eight episodes, all linked via a mysterious blue stone. The stone becomes a talisman for Tall One, a young woman in prehistoric Africa, who alone of her tribe has the ability to rely on reason over instinct. The subsequent stories tell of matriarchal tribes of the ancient Near East, Goddess-worshippers in the Jordan River Valley, early Christian martyrs in first century Rome, abbey life in late Anglo-Saxon England, a young woman’s adventures in 16th century Germany and Asia, passion and revenge in 1720 Martinique, and wagons west on the 19th century American frontier. To Wood’s credit, the stories are all unique, some light, some dark, some more realistic than others. Standouts are her portrayals of Amelia, a Roman matron ignored by her husband after an adulterous affair, and her Martinique episode, with its delightfully ironic twist at the end. There are some obvious “history in the making” moments, such as when her prehistoric characters realize at last that men play a role in the procreation of children. Overall, though, I found it engrossing. Since it’s clear that Wood has more great stories to tell, I hope they find a ready audience.