Sunday 6 August 2017

The Garden of Small Beginnings

Finished July 13
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Lilian Girvan is a single mom, widowed suddenly three years earlier when her husband Dan was killed in a car accident near home. She's always been close to her sister Rachel, but when she collapsed in mourning following the accident, Rachel stepped in to support her and look after Lilian's two young daughters. Now, Annabel is 7 and Clare is 5. Lilian works as an illustrator for a small textbook publisher, Poplar Press. She also has a lovable dog named Frank and a long-time babysitter named Leah. Rachel works for an art importer, and plays the field.
Lilian has recently been asked to take on the illustration job for a book on vegetables by the Bloom Company, which sells flowers and seeds. One of the corporate owners is running a free gardening course on Sundays over six weeks at the local botanical gardens, and Lilian's boss wants her to go. While children are allowed, Lilian asks Rachel to look after the girls, but Rachel thinks it is a better idea to come along.
The group taking the course is small, consisting of two retired teachers, Francis and Eloise; a retired banker, Gene; a young man who seems into nature, Mike; and a single mom Angie, who brings along her 5-year-old son Bash after the first week. The teacher is also young, part of the Dutch family who owns the company, Edward. There is also an assistant, who helps with a lot of the physical work and garden preparation, Bob, whom the women immediately dub "impossibly handsome."
The dynamic between these characters make up the substance of the book as when Lilian asks Edward for advice improving her own garden, the group takes turns going to each member's home after their weekly class and doing a project on each garden.
Each chapter starts with helpful gardening advice, and there is lots of humour in the plot.
A feel-good novel about the power of nature and friendship to heal.

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