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Natural History


by Andrea Barrett

Natural History by Andrea Barrett X
Natural History by Andrea Barrett
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  • Published Sep 2022
    208 pages
    Genre: Short Stories

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There are currently 23 member reviews
for Natural History
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  • Lucy S. (Ann Arbor, MI)
    Intertwined Stories
    I always love reading a book of interconnected short stories and this is no exception. Each one of these stories, taken on its own, is a beautiful meditation on the relationship between people and nature, human interactions, and how these characters remember one another and their shared experiences. Taken as a collection, our understanding of these shared histories deepens. Henrietta Atkins, a recurring character for Barrett, is a tether in many of these stories and the lens through which we view not the natural and scientific world, so masterfully written here.
    I plan to go back to Barrett's earlier work to enrich what I have read here.
  • Pamela W. (Piney Flats, TN)
    Quiet Read
    I love short stories because they pack a punch into a short space. This book was different than many collections in that the stories connected through the character Henrietta. As a female scientist in a time when most women's goals were wife and mother, she was strong and clear. Having been a teacher myself, I appreciated how she nurtured her students. Connecting the first and last stories was a challenge for me, and I didn't find the THE FAMILIES chart helpful. However, that didn't preclude my enjoyment.
  • Elise B. (Macedonia, OH)
    Natural History
    Natural History features women quietly leading the way in science since the late 1800s. The stories feature various female scientists in various times in their lives. In one story they are young, starting their career and falling in love (or not) and in another they are older, retiring, and teaching what they've learned to the next generation. My favorite part was the last chapter which showed the legacy of the women in modern times and their effect on future generations they would never know.
  • JO (Louisiana)
    Natural History
    I have read and loved Ms. Barrett's previous books, but I found this one more difficult to get into. The author has linked short stories which follow the main character, Henrietta through her life and her interaction with other scholars and her own students. The linking stories technique I have liked with other authors, but this one falls flat for me. I like that she shows women working in self-fulling ways other than housekeeping; and that they worked in a non-traditional field as science.
    Thank you for the advanced reader's copy of the book.
  • Connie K. (Oldsmar, FL)
    Am I too late to the party?
    This stories collection is my first exposure to Andrea Barrett's writing. While on a personal level I had a connection with some of the stories, in that I have raised butterflies - love nature, and have taken a few flying lessons and in fact did a solo skydive in my youth. However, it was soon evident in the reading that I was hovering awkwardly over a tightly woven net of characters with backstories unknown to me.

    I found that unlike short stories these were like journal entries about family which were interconnected by the characters, therefore seeming more like chapters of a sort. That being said, the one entitled The Accident stood most independently having memorable characters and being told in a fresh voice. A voice more energized than the other chapters/stories for sure. I also enjoyed the final entry Natural History as it flowed wonderfully revealing insights and offering digs in a dry humorous way.

    The renowned writer I'm sure deserves the accolades. For this book, I feel certain those who have read her other books and are familiar with the "family tree" will gain more and appreciate this offering more than first timers such as myself.
  • Malini (NJ)
    Wish I liked it
    I really wanted to love this book, as I usually enjoy books with strong female characters navigating familial relationships - and I'm a nature lover to boot. But I found the stories boring and there were too many side characters for a short book. I never felt connected to the main character Henrietta, and even though she was part of each story, I did not feel that I knew or understood her. However, the author has an incredible talent for truly beautiful writing.
  • Susan K. (Los Angeles, CA)
    Natural History
    I truly wanted to like this book more than I did because I know the author has a legion of fans. However, I found the stories, while beautifully and precisely written, were like a beautiful but staid piece of music: you know you are supposed to like it, but you feel instead a sense of admiration rather than pure enjoyment. Ms Barrett's language skills are formidable, evoking an 18th century drawing room filled with well-educated but rather dry guests. The stories are a very, very dry sherry and will please those for whom a dry sherry is a welcome evening's companion.

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