BOOK CLUB: Wasp Season

Author: Jennifer Scoullar
ISBN: 978-1-925827-25-5

Copy courtesy of Jennifer Scoullar and Pilyara Press

Jennifer Scoullar is one of my favourite Australian authors and I’ve adored every one of her books, including this one.  Scoullar is, in her own words, “a passionate conservationist and amateur naturalist” and this is strongly reflected in all her works.  But it’s not always about the big things, Tasmanian Tigers, Brumbies, Dolphins, etc. the little things also have an amazing impact on our world.  In this part documentary, part suspense, part horror, but all brilliant book you will learn more about our Australian types of wasps, and the impact of the European Wasp on our environment than you ever knew before

Wasp Season is written as a very different dual timeline.  Firstly we have Beth, 35, separated for the last two years from her husband Mark, and their two children, Sarah 12 and Rick, 10, plus Mark’s new family, Lena (short for Helena), 25 and their new baby Chance.

After the separation, Beth and the children have moved to the country property she and Mark bought together, with Mark having regular weekend access.  Beth is pleased that despite the messy and painful breakup she and Mark appear to have reached a level of cordial relationship and she’s loving being closer to nature in the home she’s named Benbullen.   

The only downside to her idyllic home is the discovery of a European Wasp in the garden, complete with a struggling caterpillar in its strong jaws. Rushing outside to try and rescue the caterpillar Beth is horrified to see 2 more wasps.  Clearly she doesn’t want her home overtaken by European Wasps, so after doing some research she heads down to the local hardware store to purchase a wasp trap.

As a lover of all forms of nature, Beth struggles with watching the caught wasps die in their traps, torn between knowing of the need to remove the wasps from her home, and her distress at causing death.

The more research Beth does about European Wasps the more fascinated she becomes by the life of the wasp queen, her struggles and sacrifices to survive and birth a new queen to ensure the future of the species.

And so we move to the European wasp queen, Zenandra, as she builds her nest in a fallen log in Benbullen’s garden.  The efforts she goes to in creating the perfect home, laying her eggs, taking care of her babies as they grow, then the emergence of her firstborn, Sabrina, followed shortly thereafter by the emergence of further sisters.  The European Wasp population explosion is beginning.

Meanwhile, things don’t seem to be going so well with Mark and Lena, Mark is beginning to realise that trading Beth in for a younger model is not everything it’s cracked up to be.  But in his arrogance, he seems to believe that Beth would welcome him back with open arms.  Beth, however, has moved on, she is happy to have a cordial relationship with Mark, but has no desire to reconnect with him on any other level.  As Mark’s behaviours become increasingly erratic and frightening, so too do the activities in the wasp world escalate.  The Increasing suspense in both worlds leads to a dramatic and traumatic conclusion.

“You’ll never see a wasp in the same way again”.

I know I said it before, but I reiterate, this is a brilliantly amazing book.  I learnt more about some of our insect population in this one read then I have learnt in my entire life before, and all in the context of a fabulous story of human drama.

Many thanks to Jennifer Scoullar and Pilyara Press for providing this book for me to read, and to Beauty and Lace for enabling me to provide a review. A definite 5 star read from me.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Wasp Season by Jennifer Scoullar. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

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