Monday, May 04, 2020

Review: The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman (audio/print)

Title: The Heirloom Garden
Author: Viola Shipman
Narrator: Nan McNamara, Lauren Ezzo
Published: April 2020, Harlequin Audio, Graydon House
Length: 11 hours 27 minutes, 384 pages
Source: Audio via Library / Print - ARC E-copy via Netgalley

In her inimitable heartwarming style, Viola Shipman’s brand-new novel follows two women, separated by a generation but equally scarred by war, who find hope, meaning and friendship through a garden of flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to loneliness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind a towering fence surrounding her home and gardens, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to an heirloom garden filled with starts—and memories of her own mother, grandmother, husband and daughter.

When Abby Peterson moves to Grand Haven, Michigan, with her family—a husband traumatized during his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—they find themselves next door to Iris, and are slowly drawn into their reclusive neighbor’s life where, united by loss and a love of flowers, Iris and Abby slowly unearth their secrets.

My thoughts:  This is the first book I've picked up by Viola Shipman and if this one is anything to go by it definitely will not be the last. I did a combination of listening and reading and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've found that listening to the story and then going back and rereading parts of it has become one of my favorite ways to read some books and it absolutely worked this book - there were so many passages that I wanted to go over, not because they required a second glance, but because they were just so beautiful and poignant.

This book was just what I needed right now. I feel that as much as I love my thrillers and psychological suspense novels, with all that is going on with the pandemic, I've been gravitating towards these books that provide hope, which we all need right now. And this book definitely provides that and so much more. 

I loved the characters in this book. They were real, relatable and all with their own challenges. Nothing is easy for these characters but what they have gone through is real life and the way they come out of it is so heartwarming and endearing, you can't help but fall in love with them and shed a few tears along the way.

I loved the way history was woven into this book. We hear how Iris set up a victory garden while her husband was away at war. And I also loved how each flower has such special meaning to something in Iris's life. I know that there are certain flowers that I associate with special memories and people and I loved seeing this play out in the made it all the more  relatable.

I am not a gardener by any means, but this book definitely has me wanting to learn. I love flowers, I love smelling them, I love looking at them and I love buying them, but I would love more than anything to be able to grow them myself and this book has me wanting to figure that out. I have some areas around my house that would be perfect for little gardens and I am determined to figure out what I could plant that would be hardy enough that even I can't kill it. Green thumb I am not, but perhaps I can learn to be!

I cannot recommend this book enough. It's about new friendships, taking chances and honoring those who we have lost. It's such a great feel-good book, one that inspires hope and has all the feelings.

Audio thoughts: This was such a great book to listen to with fantastic narrators. Lauren Ezzo is one of my favorite narrators, so I was thrilled to see her name on this audio book. Nan McNamara is a new narrator to me and I enjoyed her narration just was well. Both narrators really brought this book to life, using just the right amount of intonation and emotion in their voices as necessary.


1 comment

  1. I have had this on my reading radar for a while now. It sounds so good!


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