NovelNetwork member, book club manager, and blogger extraordinaire Dorothy Caldwell Minor, aka The Book Whisperer, offers her review of an oldie but goodie.
Read on for Dorothy’s review of Abbi Waxman’s THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS.
“Usually, I begin my reviews with explaining my take on the book itself. Today, I am beginning with Abbi Waxman, the author. On Waxman’s website, https://www.abbiwaxman.com/, readers will get a glimpse of Waxman’s signature humor even in the description of her own life as well as the books she has written. Abbi Waxman’s mom is herself a successful author of crime fiction. Abbi Waxman first worked in advertising and then moved into writing fiction, screenplays, and scripts for TV shows.
Some time ago, I read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Waxman and enjoyed the story immensely. I am drawn to stories set in bookstores and libraries. Wonder why that is? As I have been searching for books on the theme of friendships between women, I discovered The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman. I knew I had enjoyed The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, so that was a good start.
The Garden of Small Beginnings features Lilian Girvan, a young widow. Other important characters we meet quickly in the story include Annabel and Clare, her young daughters, and Rachel, Lilian’s sister. A host of other characters will wander into the story when Lilian takes a Saturday morning gardening class at her employer’s behest. Lili is an illustrator at a publishing house and she will be illustrating a garden book.
The gardening class meets on Saturday mornings at a botanical garden; the teacher is Edward Bloem. Rachel joins the class, mostly, at first anyway, to watch Annabel and Clare. As it turns out, children are welcome and they get to choose their own plants to grow in the garden. As a result, Rachel, Annabel, and Clare are all part of the class along with Lili and strangers who quickly become friends.
Part of the charm of the story is getting to know the other members of the gardening class and learning why each one has chosen to sign up for the class. Working together on a planned vegetable and flower garden has brought together a diverse group of people who bond over digging in the dirt and learning about worm tea, of all things. Whatever brings people together creates interest.
Lili has been widowed for four years and has no plans to date anyone, much less start a relationship. Rachel nags Lili to get out and find a new partner. The two sisters are close and confide in each other; still, Lili is reluctant to get out of her rut of working and taking care of her children.
The gardening class opens up new avenues for all the people in the class. Readers may expect a happy ending in which Lili falls in love with a member of the class, or even the teacher. However, they will have to read the book to discover if that is true. Or does Lili simply enjoy learning about plants and keeping her children occupied?
A bonus in the book includes gardening tips between each chapter. The tips start with the most basic information such as preparing the garden by digging up the soil and adding compost. The tips progress to more help on growing specific vegetables and when to plant them.
Here’s what I like about The Garden of Small Beginnings: strangers become friends; they develop a garden together; they help one another by having pizza parties at each other’s homes while they work on home gardens; and they create something they can share. Read The Garden of Small Beginnings as a treat for yourself.”