Tree Fever

by Karen Hood-Caddy,
275 pages,
ISBN: 0929141539

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First Novels - Mid-lives, MS, & an Info-Novel
by Eva Tihanyi

Tree Fever (Rendezvous, 248 pages, $18.95 paper), by Helen Hood-Caddy, strikes many of the same chords as Through the Deadfall-environmental concerns, mid-life dissatisfaction, the value of friendship-but as seen through the eyes of a woman. Jessie Dearborn James is in her fifties, a psychotherapist who lives in the Muskokas. She is a widow with two grown children, many interests, and good friends. But she is worried about her daughter Robyn, who at twenty-two has just returned from a five-year stay in Europe. Robyn is sullen and withdrawn, seems determined to keep her distance. Jessie is also worried about growing old without ever having made a real difference, without having lived as fully as she would have liked.

It comes as no surprise that when Boyd Murdon, a prominent local developer, tries to clear a site for condos by cutting down a number of very old trees, Jessie chains herself to one of her favourites and sets off a protest that escalates into a full-scale rally involving the whole town. In the process, she and the group of older women who join her (dubbed the Guerrilla Grannies by the media) discover the potency of Grey Power. As Jessie realizes, people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies are perfect protesters because they have experience and time: "Time to work through red tape, time to do petitions, time to talk to people. Making change requires time."

Jessie and her friends learn to help themselves by helping each other. They tap into their strengths, refuse to surrender to their weaknesses, grow to accept themselves for who they are, and accomplish far more than they ever thought possible. And, in Jessie's case, the irony is that the more she accepts herself, the more her daughter accepts her too.


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