Title: Love Among the Walnuts
Author: Jean Ferris
Gut Reaction: An amusing read that creates humor and charm through its absurdity.
Two words encapsulate the essence of this novel: unrealistic characters. Love Among the Walnuts begins with Horatio Alger Huntington-Ackerman, a young businessman who seems to effortlessly make billions, falling instantly in love with aspiring actress Mousey Malone after seeing her brief performance in a play. Horatio proceeds to propose to his newfound sweetheart on the very same night that he meets her and they are blissfully married a month later. The newlywed couple builds a manor in the countryside from which they then isolate themselves from the rest of society with the exception of their servant Bentley and his wife Flossie. The plot of the novel centers on Sandy, the son of Horatio and Mousey, and the problems he must face when his parents are sent into a drug-induced coma due to the schemes of his evil uncles.
Love Among the Walnuts is, above all else, an absurdity. Though it initially gives the semblance of realism, the reader soon discovers that a multitude of its elements are nothing short of ridiculousness. The features and behavior of the characters as well as its overarching plot are all preposterous. The examples of this are endless and include Horatio managing to run his multi-billion dollar corporate empire from the comfort of his rural estate, Horatio and Mousey deciding it would be sensible to raise their son in complete seclusion from the rest of the world, and Sandy appearing more preoccupied with his infatuation over a nurse, Sandy, than the condition of his coma-stricken parents. Yet I think it is through this that the book finds its niche. It is a lighthearted comedy and doesn’t masquerade as anything nothing more than this. It is not meant to awe the reader with its complexity, but rather to entertain the reader through its unassuming components. It is certainly a fun and worthwhile read but don’t expect anything more than the superficial. Its characters, though undoubtedly possessing of some interest to the reader, are rather one-dimensional. They consist of a gang of endearing misfits, two irreconcilably malicious and stupid villains, and a series of unmemorable minor characters. The weaknesses of the novel are the predictability and the lack of any meaningful character development, as well as the fact that the issues the novel addresses are all made to feel shallow and a little too facile by the way they are resolved. But its numerous strengths lie in the appeal of its simplicity and its accessibility to all readers.
I would recommend this book at least for its novelty if nothing else to a general audience. It has a certain attraction just by the way it stands out from the rest of the Young Adult books through its subject, tempo, and characters. The book truly jumps out at you by blending fiction and realism in an original and unique manner and is thus, in this blogger’s opinion, worth taking a second look at.
Read this if you like…
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini
- An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Jesse Andrews