The Gulf Today - Panorama - - BOOKS - By Bar­bara King­solver

A few years ago, I bought flo­ral wall­pa­per cov­ered in flow­ers and vines and Venus fly­traps and ants. De­signed by a small com­pany called Grow House Grow, the name of the pat­tern was “Ms. Treat.” The de­sign was in­spired by Mary Treat, an Amer­i­can sci­en­tist in the late 19th cen­tury. Treat’s work is for­got­ten, but she was a spe­cial­ist in car­niv­o­rous plants, pub­lished sev­eral books and in­flu­enced the work of Charles Dar­win. Who was she? And why did I only learn about her be­cause of a wall­pa­per de­sign?

So thank God for Bar­bara King­solver, one of Amer­ica’s hardi­est nov­el­ists, who has also stum­bled upon the lost his­tory of Treat. King­solver went into the ar­chives and got her hands on Treat’s pa­pers and cor­re­spon­dence with Dar­win, emerg­ing with Un­shel­tered, a grip­ping novel of two multi­gen­er­a­tional house­holds set in Vineland, New Jersey.

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