|Publishers Group UK kindly sent me a copy of Trees in the Field by J.E. Knowles to read. The book begins well introducing the reader to Senator Raybelle McKeehan and Dr. Tomas Jefferson.
Raybelle McKeehan is a Senator for Tennessee in the US Administration. Since a very young age she’s had her eyes set on being President. Consumed by this goal she’s never had time for a partner, family or anything else outside of politics.
Dr. Tomas Jefferson works in Chicago and is more interested in microbiological organisms than people. Microbiological organisms are simpler she concluded after her girlfriend Alicia decided to leave her. However she does see patients including some in a Street Clinic for the homeless.
Raybelle and Tomas are simliar in the sense that they are both completely obsessed with their work. What differs is their reasons for this obsession: Raybelle’s ambition to be the President and Tomas wants to be respected (as she’s a black doctor). Tomas is also using her work as a way of avoiding her feelings about Alicia leaving her.
The link between Raybelle and Tomas is Dennis, Raybelle’s brother. Dennis is a homeless army veteran who Tomas meets at one of her Street Clinics. Tomas gets to know Dennis in the hopes of studying a disease he’s carrying. Meanwhile in Washington Raybelle is asked to investigate the standards of care army veterans are receiving.
When Dennis dies Tomas rings Raybelle to tell her. Raybelle asks Tomas to help her with the investigation to which Tomas agrees. I found Tomas dropping everything to go to Raybelle in Washington unbelievable. No doctors I know (and believe me I know a few) would be able to drop their workload at the drop of a hat to help a politician. Let alone one who doesn’t work for their state.
Mid way through the book the pace of the story becomes very slow. Raybelle & Tomas are unwittingly being “played” by two other politicians in relation to the standards of care investigation; I found this unbelievable as the book gives the impression that Raybelle has been a Senator for a number of years.
In this part of the book Raybelle & Tomas also get to know each other better and there is a really enjoyable chapter where Raybelle takes Tomas to her home town. There are however several internal monologues from Raybelle & Tomas that I found frustrating; they added nothing to the characters, their development or the storyline. The internal monologues felt like page fillers and I began to feel that the story could have been told in half the number of pages.
The book ends on a high; in the last few chapters the pace of the story picks up and so does the action. I won’t give the storyline away but the last few chapters are an addictive read.
Trees in the Field by J.E. Knowles is essentially a politically themed story centring around the US military, corruption & money making. It has two lesbian main characters, one whose just realising she’s lesbian (Raybelle) and one whose openly out (Tomas).