Saturday, 30 July 2011

Jean GIONO (1962), The Man Who Planted Trees The Harvill Press London

By Pablo Fernández, 1º Bachillerato EFL

Elzéard Bouffier was a man who lived in the period of the I and II World Wars. However, he was so isolated that he didn't participate in any of those wars. He didn't even hear anything about them until one friend of his went round to his hut and told him what had happened. He had lost his son and his wife but, despite being alone, he was happy. He had an odd hobby: planting trees. Elzéard lived in a hut surrounded by nothing; there was no life where he lived. He managed to find water and started to create life by planting thousand of trees.

The story is told by a narrator whose name we do not know. One day, while he was crossing the Alps, he found a shepherd who invited him to sleep at his hut. The next day, the narrator followed the shepherd everywhere he went to, and he started admiring him. He didn't know how a person could live in such an isolated place and yet be happy. So he started going to visit this shepherd every year. But unfortunately, he participated in the 1914 and 1939 wars and he couldn't see how the trees were growing. After the war, he went for the last time to visit his friend and he saw something he didn’t expect.

Maybe the part of the book I liked the best is when we can see that the trees which the shepherd, with his willpower, had grown for fifty years are very beautiful and give life to that place. At the beginning of the story, the shepherd lived in a hut surrounded by nothing, there were no trees, many rivers were dry and no one lived there. But after fifty years planting trees, the place where he lived was gorgeous. There were thousands of young and lively trees, the rivers had water, and many people were repopulating a village close to this new forest. This scene made me think that everyone can do whatever they set their minds to.

I would recommend this book to people of fifteen and over.

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