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Lillian's Garden Paperback – April 16, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Lillian's Garden is the story of a wounded father, a resilient daughter and her runaway mother. Carrie Knowles' Lillian's Garden is gorgeously rich and sensuous writing about home and garden, family and loss: a redemptive story about a woman with abandonment at the center of her being.
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
While this book is set in a specific era, it has timeless themes. Lillian’s Garden explores the impact on the soul when we ignore who we are over time – to the point of affecting our sanity. There are other themes – how we deal with shame and family secrets. This story delivers what you expect from a well-written book – first the pleasure of being absorbed in the lives of the characters and then after the last page is turned, the days of reflecting on the themes.
There is hope and redemption in this story (but not without significant pain). But if you’ve experienced those relationship issues that make you feel a little crazy or a lot crazy it is an encouraging story – and definitely worth the read.
This is a powerful and poignant tale of how bipolar disease affects not only the patient, but also the entire family. Add in the background of faith and family secrets, and readers will have a hard time remembering that this is a work of fiction. Switching narratives between the young girl and Helen allows readers a more intimate look at the family dynamics. Knowles has created a mesmerizing work of art that captures the human spirit. This is a must-read for anyone looking to get inside of a mind suffering from the wretched disease.
The PR representative provided a copy of this book for me to review.
This review was originally posted on the Ariesgrl Book Reviews website.