Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Garden of Small Beginnings - Book Review

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Let's start with the harvest here.  Lest you think this is going to be a book about a widow who has had a breakdown after her husband's untimely and tragic death, and who is still struggling with that loss, let me assure you that this is a book where the reader reaps joy.  I found The Garden of Small Beginnings, by Abbi Waxman, to be a brilliantly written, and delightfully humorous, take on how we get through the gritty times in life.

It's not often that a book begins with whale genitalia.  This is when you know this is not going to be your grandmother's gardening guide.  No... not at all.  This is where the irreverent humor and quirky cast of characters begin to emerge.  

You see, Lilian Girvan is a textbook illustrator.  And sometimes, though perhaps not every day, you are called upon to draw things like a whale's, ahem, penis.  Am I allowed to use the word penis in a book review?  This is surely a first for this reviewer.  

Anyway, getting back to Lilian.  On the day of her infamous illustrating assignment, she is called up to meet with her boss.  Lilian has been assigned a plum project designing the illustrations for a series of vegetable guides.  In order to garner favor with an important client, Lilian has been volunteered to take a Saturday morning gardening class at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden.  This is where the plot (literally) thickens.

Over the course of six weeks, lives will be changed in beautiful and unexpected ways by an eclectic crew of aspiring gardeners.  Though this is not a gardening book, per se, it is a book about how we grow from loss, and grief, and other heartbreaks into who we will become in the next season of life.

I loved this book's characters and witty banter.  Lilian's young children are sheer delight.  This is my favorite kind of read: so well-written, clever, funny, and full of heart.  Highly recommended.





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15 comments:

  1. this sounds delightful...thanks for the recommend.

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  2. Coping with grief is no small thing. Helpful books have been written to guide you through and past. But one written with humor to guide you into a different future ... showing us "who we will become in the next season of life".... sounds terrific. The Garden of Small Beginnings sounds wonderful.

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    1. I loved it... the writing, language, witty banter... that precocious child. Grief may be crushing, but with the right friends, and by sowing seeds of healing, one may survive, and dare I say thrive? Yes... one may find the way to a new thrive.

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  3. The title draws my in, especially when I see that it does mean a literal garden. There have been times in my life that gardening was definitely my time and place of solace, and even healing. A widow with young children would certainly be devastating and challenging. Humor is not what I would have expected, but definitely what I prefer. Thanks for the great book recommendation!

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    1. The character who teaches the gardening class is a real gem, too. I loved the fairy garden he created for Lilian's young daughters. Just know there is some off-color humor that may not be your cup of tea. Fair warning!

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  4. Diana, this sounds like my favorite kind of read, too! Your recommendations always seem to align with my own tastes as well, and any book that not only has witty banter and such an imaginative story line, and that you consider "well-written, clever, funny, and full of heart," is sure to become a favorite of mine, too. (I can't remember if I ever thanked you for your review of The Honey Bus, which led me to buy the audiobook so John and I could listen to it together, and it was superb!)

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    1. So glad you two enjoyed The Honey Bus. If you enjoy humor with a bit of faux wicked edge (think sarcasm that is not really mean), then you should enjoy this one. I do believe you and I seem to be aligned when it comes to books (as well as many other things). If you decide to read this one, let me know your take on it. I always value your perspective. Thanks!

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  5. Diana, you got me with the drawing of the whales nether regions.....too funny and what a way to start a book. I will be looking for this one for sure. Will I blush, maybe, but that's okay. Sometimes we need a book that will give us a little shock to wake us up. Thanks for a great review. I will look forward to reading this one.

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    1. I think you will be okay. There is nothing visually graphic. It's all in the imagination. And yes, she had me at Moby's _ _ _ _ (well, you know). I'll leave at that. Enjoy!

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  6. This sounds like my kind of story! Thank you for the review Diana. I am adding this to my to-read list.

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    1. I think you will enjoy it, Dawn Rae. Thanks for stopping by! Always good to see you.

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  7. I love the metaphor. A book about gardening and growth and life all in one and it sounds interconnected of course. This book would make a lovely gift for someone too.

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  8. This sounds like a great book for me to read, I love books that start a little unexpectedly and I always enjoy having humour sprinkled into a story.

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