Author Wimberley Watts tackles over 65 years of history, as well as religion, in her book Gathering Pecans.
The book begins as a romance in Alabama in 1945. The story seems simple enough at first: A soldier freshly returned from World War II falls for a girl who is secretly Jewish and has a personal attachment to the Holocaust.
A third of the way through the book, however, we find that the real main character is Elizabeth, the daughter of this couple. Elizabeth is extraordinary: smart, beautiful, rich, kind, and gifted with a supernatural ability both to speak many languages and to foresee the future through dreams. Elizabeth’s overarching quest is to unite people of different races and religions in love.
Watts has much to say in this book. Through Elizabeth’s experiences and knowledge, Watts reveals the history of the Christian traditions of Easter and Christmas; tackles discrimination against Jews and blacks; challenges the Christian notion of Jesus as the one way to God; educates readers on world travel and world politics; delves extensively into Afghan history; seeks to unite the three Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism; and even hints at gay rights issues. Elizabeth communicates with everyone from a Holocaust survivor to Commander Massoud of Afghanistan.
Readers will emerge educated but with their minds spinning, due to the breadth of the topics, and wishing the author had given them more insight into Elizabeth’s thoughts and internal conflict.
“It’s time to start gathering people—like pecans” is the mantra of Elizabeth’s mother. Watts makes her point that love is what will unite people, but that message would have been more effective without being wedged in with so many other issues. This book is very readable, but it would be much improved if Watts could absorb the concept of “show, don’t tell” and better define her scope.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.