Help me decide: The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

I’m halfway through The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree. While I appreciate its lyricism and breadth of ambition, I can’t decide whether it’s my bag.

Help me?

There are lots of things going for this book:

  • it’s set in pre and post revolution Iran. I haven’t indulged in many Iranian creative works, apart from Persepolis and Wadjda, which are both movies and not books
  • it was short listed for the Stella Prize and I like to support Aussie women writers
  • it’s a bold novel for a debut author
  • I paid actual money for it, rather than borrowing it from the library
  • it has a lovely cover

And yet,

  • I’m really confused about what is going on
  • there seems to be more magic than realism
  • I need to read large chunks at a time to get into it (which can be tricky)
  • I’m finding reasons not to pick it up
  • the next book on my list, Grief is The Thing With Feathers, is calling me.

What should I do?  Whether you’ve read it or not, give me some advice…

This is a site about books and about tea, and how we should read more books and drink more tea. Sometimes, it's hard to know what books to read and what tea to drink. This is where I can help out.


  1. Ditch… I found this one tough going and mostly because as you say, more magic than realism. The fables etc were too long, so the progress of the actual story is hard to follow. Don’t want to say too much and give bits away but there was a scene toward the end which I actually found quite distressing.

    Like you, I started reading everything else but this book – I would have DNF except was reading Stella shortlist at the time.

    • I think perhaps I remembered your review as I progressed. It’s a shame it is so tough going. Perhaps with a different editor it would have been more accessible. It’s funny, I looked at the Stella shortlist for this year again and of the ones I’ve read, none of them have bowled me over.

      • To be honest, I enjoyed the books that were long listed (and didn’t make shortlist) better!

  2. If you’re finding reasons not to pick it up, that tells me all I need to know! Maybe put it to one side and come back to it if you feel more inclined to engage?

  3. Yes, I agree with kaggsy. If you are finding reasons not to pick it up, put it down. Life is too short. (I haven’t read it – it’s in my TBR pile, though, for the reasons you give. And, yes, I bought my copy too. (ie I didn’t borrow it, and I wasn’t given a copy to review.) Hmmm…

    • I did in the end. It’s a shame as it was a book I wanted to like. If you do ever get round to reading it I’d love to know what you thought.

      • Sorry about the double comment. The first one disappeared off my screen and didn’t seem to appear on yours, so I wrote a scaled down second one.

        I’d like to read it but am a bit overwhelmed at present. We’ll see.

  4. I agree with kaggsy – though you’ve probably already done that. If you don’t want to pick it up, why pick it up?

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