Garden Club & the Kumquat Campaign:
A Fictional Account

by Des Kennedy,
224 pages,
ISBN: 1551104032

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First Novels - This Month, a Brood of Ten
by Eva Tihanyi

Des Kennedy's The Garden Club and the Kumquat Campaign (Whitecap, 210 pages, $16.95 paper) is, despite what its humdrum title might suggest, a West Coast quest novel. Joseph Jones, forty-three, a virgin ex-priest now living on Upshot Island, gets involved-largely against his own better judgement-in a trip of civil disobedience to save the Kumquat Sound rain forests, organized by a handful of the local garden club members, of whom he is one. His next-door neighbour, the fiery young Caitlin, urges him to come along, says his "soul-force" will be helpful. Because he's very much attracted to her, he goes.

Along for the ride is a bizarre supporting cast: the beautiful, enigmatic Mistral Wind, a Persian "mystic" whose visit to a garden club meeting sets the adventure in motion; Elvira Stone, who is convinced that her husband was abducted by aliens; PeeWee and Julia, a pair of married academics who spend their time writing lucrative romance novels under a pseudonym and sitting in their Jacuzzi; and the irrepressible, cantankerous, tobacco-chewing, continually cussing Waddy Watts, who at eighty-one has more integrity than the whole garden club put together.

Although generally light-hearted, the novel has an underlying seriousness. In a manner that is never boring or pedantic, Kennedy raises issues that are timeless, many of them dealing with matters of moral choice and justice: when to obey and when not to obey.


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