Lillian's Garden is a poignant and moving story of depression, religious ideals, and the places they intersect. Told with rich and sensuous language, Lillian's Garden brings to life the individual stories that made the tragedy of places like Eloise Hospital so memorable. Guilt and redemption play a large role in all of our lives, and seldom has that story been better told.
Carrie Knowles' novel, Lillian's Garden, is a complex and intriguing depiction of how the very qualities that attract us to each other may also result in friction. Her book presents very valuable wisdom through fiction---how beautiful things in life may also lead to pain and vice versa.
In this earnest but prosaic story of an early-1960s woman in conflict, Helen Nichols, mother of teenagers Tommy and Linda, husband to Richard, stands out in her small Midwestern town. Linda’s classmates call Helen “crazy”; what emerges is a mix of existential angst and bipolar disorder. Helen yearns for something, but other than the pleasures of the eponymous garden, begun by her beloved mother-in-law Lillian, Helen can’t find it—not in her hard-working husband, scarred by WWII; not in her fire-and-brimstone “Freewill Baptist” church; maybe, if only a little bit, in her children. This first novel reads more like a memoir than a fictional narrative; episodic, remembered, and not fully realized. The garden becomes a rich metaphor thanks to the book’s most vivid (but least convincing) character, the lay preacher “Devil hunter” Joe Nathan, who finds it “full of pride” and compares Helen to Eve.
--Publishers Weekly; 3/25/13
About the Author
|Carrie was born in Detroit and grew up in Wayne, Michigan in the shadow of Eloise Mental Hospital. She wrote Lillian's Garden because she strongly believes women often forget to plant the seeds of their own dreams while they are busy juggling the responsibilities of being both a good wife and a mother. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.|