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The Garden of Happy Endings: A Novel Paperback – April 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553386786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553386783
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for the novels of Barbara O’Neal
 
“Absorbing . . . [with] lovingly sketched characters and real emotion.”—Publishers Weekly, on How to Bake a Perfect Life
 
“A powerful and intriguing story rich in detailed and vivid descriptions.”—Booklist, on The Secret of Everything

About the Author

Barbara O’Neal is the author of a number of highly acclaimed novels, including the Target Club Pick How to Bake a Perfect Life and The Lost Recipe for Happiness, which won the RITA in 2010, bringing her total number of RITA awards to six. She sold her first novel in her twenties, and has also published under the names Barbara Samuel and Ruth Wind, and her books have been sold in Italy, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and Poland. Barbara loves olive oil, peaches, good ale, gardening, and all big dogs. She’s also a long distance walker who traveled a portion of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in 2010, and hopes to return to walk the rest in the near future. A native of Colorado, she now lives on the skirts of Pikes Peak with her partner, a British endurance athlete, and four animals who convinced her they needed rescue.

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Customer Reviews

This is the second book I've read by Barbara O'Neal and I've loved both.
Shelly Bell
There is also a richly rewarding sense of healed hearts, renewed faith, and hope for lasting love and happiness.
Virginia Campbell
I love this author's writing style: she's very descriptive and really builds her characters well.
B. Shelton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Campbell VINE VOICE on April 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reverend Elsa Montgomery has faced challenges to her spiritual beliefs on more than one occasion, but has always managed to find her touchstone. This time, a shocking death in her own church community triggers a crisis of faith that sends her from Seattle, WA back to her hometown of Pueblo, CO. Shaken and disillusioned, Elsa turns to her sister, Tamsin, and her dear friend, Father Jake. Working in a soup kitchen and tending a communal garden help her to find a sense of peace in keeping busy and helping others. When Tamsin's world comes unglued, and she is forced to move in with Elsa, the two quite different women must resolve their own personal issues. Elsa's heart finds wings when she meets Deacon McCoy, a handsome landscaping expert who lends his expertise to the garden project. In my own personal life, I savor the exquisite simplicity of sun-warmed earth, the pull of a needle through cloth to make a quilt, and the satisfaction of nurturing others through the preparation and serving of needed sustenance. All of these elements come together in author Barbara O'Neal's "The Garden of Happy Endings: A Novel". There is also a richly rewarding sense of healed hearts, renewed faith, and hope for lasting love and happiness. Readers are also treated to a delightful little recipe section--and let me say this about that "Chicken & Dumplings recipe: Oh, my goodness!!! I look forward to reading more lovely works from Barbara O'Neal.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on May 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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Several times in Elsa Montgomery's life, she has had her faith challenged to the point of turning her back on God. The latest crisis develops while she serves as minister to a congregation in Seattle. After the brutal murder of a young girl, Elsa decides she needs time to heal and arranges to move to Pueblo, Colorado, her hometown. What ensues is a story of Elsa's spiritual growth and discovery of her own true self by giving to others in a different capacity.

Born and raised Catholic, Elsa embarked on ministry in a unitarian church because she could not become a priest. Her good childhood friend, Joaquin is now Father Jack to the parishioners of San Roque's in Pueblo Colorado. They have stayed confidants through the years and Fr. Jack welcomes Elsa to help with the local soup kitchen. Elsa also becomes involved with the community vegetable garden to serve those in the impoverished neighborhood.

Elsa opens up her old childhood home in Pueblo, and invites her sister, Tamsin, to live with her when Tamsin becomes homeless. Tamsin's husband has suddenly disappeared and brought scandal and financial ruin to her family. The relationship of the two sisters with such diverse lifestyles begins to grow and mature as each questions her status in life and how to find meaning in the lives they face.

Can one find happiness in changing life choices that are now under question? What place do family and children hold when one chooses to serve the church? Can life long relationships stay strong when choices bring dramatic change? Can one find a new relationship with God that strengthens and endures?

Author Barbara O'Neal develops the characters well as they struggle with these questions.
Read more ›
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Lisa Putman on April 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read everything Barbara O'Neal (a.k.a. Ruth Wind, Barbara Samuel) has written I find this to be the very acme of her work. This is a Real book: the characters are Real (I feel like I'd recognize them on the street!), The descriptions are Real. The relationships are Real. Even the dogs are Real. And the cooking and the quilting, too. A book about love and loving as well as being a book about the Spirit. I don't know how she does it. I know I'll read this again and even more than usual am looking forward to her next book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Skippy11 on August 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I know I am going against the general tide of comments when I write that I was a little underwhelmed with Barbara O'Neal's Garden of Happy Endings. Perhaps this is because The Lost Recipe rates as one of my all time favourite books, and I compare her following efforts so far to that book. Since that first one, I have found her characters just as interesting, but the stories less engaging over time and particularly in relation to the connection/s between the main characters and love interests. In the Lost Recipe, the connection of love between all major characters was felt incredibley strong, a tribute to the author's skill in writing and imagery. I also really felt the strength of attraction between those who develop relationships. But with later books, and particularly this lastest effort, this strength was lost for me and I didn't feel as connected with the charcters or as engaged with the story. This could also be that she seems to have become less explicit with her few love scenes - they have been moved behind a closed door so to speak, and I actually think has undermined her portrayal of the power of the attraction. That magnetic sense of connection and attraction (has) felt very weak in comparison to her first two books.

Having said that, I did enjoy the book. Elsa is a lovely character, and you get a feel for her dilemma as with the dilemmas that other characters are facing in their lives - real dilemmas that are about who they are as individuals and what they have chosen to do or be in their lives. I must admit that I did skim the passages devoted to Tamsin a little, but I just didn't feel that interested in her character. I also felt that (spoiler alert)the assault, or post assult process, wasn't very well addressed in the novel, and that it was all wrapped up a little too quickly.

I am likely to not rush out and buy a new copy of her next book, but wait for a second hand copy.
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