- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Berkley (May 2, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399583580
- ISBN-13: 978-0399583582
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 194 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Garden of Small Beginnings Paperback – May 2, 2017
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A MAY INDIE NEXT PICK
“Brilliant. Simply brilliant. The Garden of Small Beginnings is funny, poignant, and startling in its emotional intensity and in its ability to make the reader laugh and cry on the same page...I loved this book!”—Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street Novels
“If you’re looking for a summer beach read with meat, this might well be your book…Waxman develops and explores the characters and their relationship in depth…with moments of humorous writing.”—The Washington Post
“This is my favorite kind of book—hilarious, sad, joyful. Beautifully written. Fun. I dare you not to enjoy it.”—Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me
“What a treat!! Abbi Waxman is one of the wittiest voices in the world today. The Garden of Small Beginnings is a beautiful book full of humor, heart, and deep insight. An intimate and hilarious journey about a young mom moving on from grief. Reading it gave me the feeling I was talking to a really funny, open mom-friend sharing secrets about life, love, loss, and gardening! Abbi Waxman’s quick wit and heart shine brightly throughout this debut novel. I just loved it!”—Molly Shannon, actress
“Funny and poignant. Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry. May make you want to play in dirt and grow a new life of your own.”—Wendy Wax, USA Today bestselling author of One Good Thing
“Waxman's skill at characterization...lifts this novel far above being just another 'widow finds love' story. Clearly an observer, Waxman has mastered the fine art of dialogue as well. Characters ring true right down to Lilian's two daughters, who often steal the show. This debut begs for an encore from Waxman.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Waxman takes readers from tears to laughter in this depiction of one woman's attempt to hold it all together for everyone else only to learn it's OK to put herself first.”—Booklist
“Kudos to debut author Waxman for creating an endearing and realistic cast of main and supporting characters (including the children). Her narrative and dialog are drenched with spring showers of witty and irreverent humor, which provides much respite from the underlying grief theme.”— Library Journal (Starred review)
“The Garden of Small Beginnings is a quirky, funny, and deeply thoughtful book. . . . We’re already dying to know if there will be a sequel.” —HelloGiggles
“Waxman’s voice is witty, emotional and often profound.”—InStyle.com (UK)
“This novel is filled with characters you’ll love and wish you lived next door to in real life.”–Bustle
“Sorrow is usually an occasion for sobs instead of laughter, but Waxman manages to wring many funny and poignant moments from a sober situation.”—Augusta Chronicle
“Lilian Girvan, the central character of The Garden of Small Beginnings, is an illustrator, a mother, a sister, a budding gardener, and a widow, and her perspective on how she’s doing with each role doesn’t always match up with what readers can see around her. But that trait makes her a more interesting and realistic protagonist, and along with the book’s humor and eccentric supporting cast made it a great read.”—BookRiot
“Abbi Waxman artfully tackles grief with humor in her debut novel.”—Signature Reads
“It’s impossible not to fall in love with Lilian, a young widow who is still trying to come to terms with the death of her husband four years later. . . . If you are thinking to yourself ‘forget it, I’m not reading a gardening book’- don’t worry . . . THIS IS NOT A GARDENING BOOK! It IS, however, a feel-good, hate-to-put-it- down, kind-of-book!”—Chick Lit Central
About the Author
Abbi Waxman is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.
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That being said, the story is about two close sisters supporting each other as they individually figure out what’s next for them in life. They have the same irreverent sense of humor that serves them really well, and that’s lucky, because their mother stands in stark contrast to the daughters she raised. The eldest sister, and narrator of the story, is a young widow with two little girls whose innocence adds lots of fodder for the family humor.
The garden club characters are compulsory, as the sisters’ personalities bounce off them like well-placed volleyballs. Observing their daily interactions is both relaxing and entertaining, and definitely makes you laugh out loud. In short, they are a delightful family (including their dog).
This book inspired me on several levels. It was a reminder to be more playful; don’t overthink everything; try something new again; and make peace with my shortcomings. Ultimately, treat myself better.
So I’m going to start today by getting some fresh flowers for the dinner table tonight. I don’t know the full menu yet, but it will include a salad with lots of veggies and definitely strawberries for dessert.
Bottom line: I encourage you to grab a glass of iced tea when you have some time, and visit with these folks. Their life is full, yours is too, so you may not become BFF’s, but your life will feel enriched for having met them.
At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently, being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.
After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles botanical garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…
My Thoughts: The Garden of Small Beginnings reeled me in from the first page, as our first person narrator, Lilian, masks her pain with a comedic tone, describing how her dead husband is useful. Someone she can blame when things go wrong. Her conversations with him set the tone for this story of a thirty-something woman with small children who was so broken by his sudden death that she ended up in a mental health facility for a few months.
But now she is trying to move on. When she isn’t conversing with her deceased husband Dan, she has regular phone calls and texts with her sister Rachel. Her job as a freelance illustrator takes her to unusual places where her latest gig is a book about gardening. She joins a garden class as a foundation for her art, and what an interesting assortment of students show up there. Who knew that an ordinary class would suddenly morph into a life in the midst of an interesting community?
Classes turn into opportunities to create small gardens in backyards, with each character contributing his or her home as the venue each week. Picnics, barbecues, and interesting pairings, like the one developing between Lili and the instructor, Edward, carry us along on the journey to nourishing a garden and a family of friends. Each chapter ends with snippets on growing a specific vegetable.
Lili fights the developing feelings, and tells herself she is not ready. Will she discover that her reluctance has more to do with feelings of betrayal for Dan? Or could there be more going on?
Set in Los Angeles, the story takes us into the lives of the characters…and the emotional situations range from sadness to love and warmth. A 5 star read for me..