“The best times of my life, the times that have passed by me the most quickly, were the times when the roses grew wild.”
The lessons that most enrich our lives often come unexpectedly. That’s what Kate Bowman learns when she moves temporarily—with her husband and baby son—to her grandmother’s Missouri farm. The family has given Kate the job of convincing Grandma Rose, who’s become increasingly stubborn and forgetful, to move off her beloved land and into a nursing home. But Kate knows such a change would break her grandmother’s heart.
Just when Kate despairs of finding answers, she discovers her grandma’s journal. A beautiful handmade notebook, it is full of stories that celebrate the importance of family, friendship, and faith. Stories that make Kate see her life—and her grandmother—in a completely new way….
Sissy: In the absence of Bubby this week I am doing something new in conjunction with something old, just to shake things up and see if I can get myself in trouble (when the cat’s away…). The NEW thing is that we are going to revisit some of our favorite reviewed authors of the past and see what else they have up their sleeves, whether new or old. The OLD thing is Friday Favorites, which Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate qualifies for since it was published in 2001. Get it? (I’m also putting all my text in green, just because Bubby’s not here to stop me!).
We first reviewed Firefly Island by this author in April of last year, and later found out that she has written many award winning books and series’. I decided to introduce you to Wingate’s very first book, Tending Roses, which is also the first book in a series of 5. Here are Lisa Wingate’s own words about the genesis of Tending Roses:
“My grandmother came to stay with me when the baby was small, and together we decided to plant flowerbeds in front of my house. One day, when the baby was fussy, we had to go inside rather than finishing the flowerbed. Grandma bundled the baby and sat down in the chair with him, and soon he was quietly drifting off to sleep. As the afternoon sun streamed in the window, Grandma leaned back, closed her eyes, and began telling me the story of her life, and her flowerbeds, and the lessons she learned there. That story, “Time for Tending Roses,” eventually became the inspiration for my first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, which was published by New American Library (Penguin Putnam) in June, 2001. Of all of the books, Tending Roses remains my sentimental favorite, because of the real-life connection with my grandmother.”
Now, I’ve got to tell you, I felt like the lessons Kate (the main character) learns through her grandmother’s story journal were universal, having application for me and for everyone. I just wish I could have perfect recall of them at the exact moment I needed them (and was about to do or say something stupid…). This story is so real, so human, so emotional–it makes complete sense that it was inspired by the author’s own feelings and experiences. Tending roses is a complex and heartwarming tale of family relationships, love, and plain old human life, and is well worth the read. I give it 4.25 bubbles, and I definitely plan to read the rest of the series!
Click HERE to buy Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather have a dream of being Dublin’s newest and best catering company, appropriately named “Scarlet Feather”. Unfortunately, their families are not on board with their plans. Cathy’s mother-in-law disapproves of everything Cathy does – and her husband Neil doesn’t seem to notice anything Cathy does. Tom’s girlfriend has career aspirations of her own that don’t necessarily match up with Tom’s dreams. Scarlet Feather chronicles a year of hope and heartache, struggle and success as Tom and Cathy try to both realize their new dreams while keeping their old dreams alive.
Bubby: Sissy and I were strolling through the internet trying to decide on this week’s Friday Favorite when we came across Maeve Binchy’s website. Much to our horror, the opening post was a statement notifying us that Ms. Binchy had passed away in July. Since she has long been one of our favorite authors, and we are still mourning the death of our dear daddy in October, this came as quite the shock. I even got all teary (not that it takes much for me to cry).
Sissy: So in honor of Maeve Binchy, who we’re sure we would have been friends with if we’d have known her, we are reviewing Scarlet Feather. Something interesting about Maeve Binchy books is that they are written in a very specific style and not all people like them. Her books contain multiple characters and storylines that weave in and out amongst each other and this book is no different. In reading other reviews for Binchy’s books, I found that people generally either love her or hate her. Bubby and I love her characters, how you feel like they are your family and long-lost friends, and how delightful it is to meet up with them again in other novels.
Bubby: I must make two disclaimers right up front. First, Maeve Binchy’s books sometimes contain a smattering of less-appropriate language and/or the odd sexual innuendo. No F-bombs or heaving bosoms (if you know what I mean) but these characters sometimes make poor decisions. Secondly, I have to be in the correct mood to read a Binchy book. Sometimes (like when I had shoulder surgery last year) I will gather 5 or 6 of her books together and just read them one right after another. And then I want to wait a good long while before I read any more Binchy.
Sissy: Cathy and Tom are characters you like right away. Cathy’s husband Neil is indifferent, cold and dismissive. I wanted to slap him. Neil’s parents needed slapping likewise.
Bubby: Actually, can we just slap Neil’s whole family? Parents, Aunt and Uncle, even Cousin Walter?
Sissy: Slap away! *(There is no actual slapping involved in the making of this blog . . .usually). Muttie and Lizzie Scarlet are likeable real people, flaws and all. The story takes many twists and turns and sometimes readers don’t like the fact that things go really wrong for people in Binchy’s books – just like in real life. But everything always turns out for the best in the end.
Bubby:I have a soft spot for any novel dealing with food as I’m sure our readers have noticed by now. I was thrilled that the Scarlet Feather catering company was a success. Unfortunately, with success often comes sacrifice. Ultimately this book is about dreams and what they are worth. Is your dream more important than your marriage? Your children? Your honor? Hard questions with hard answers. I think that in the end, everyone in Scarlet Feather achieves their true dream – and the consequences that go along with that. There are some humorous bits and the dialogue between the characters is well written and enjoyable. And sometimes it’s just nice to read something where everyone elses’ problems make your own problems look tiny.
Sissy: Wow! That was so eloquent, Bubby! I am tempted to not tell everyone that you are a food snob and that you tried to buy me a bookmark today that said “Many people have eaten my cooking and gone on to live perfectly normal lives.” Therefore, since I am not saying that, I am also not talking about the food in the book.
Bubby: Was that last paragraph supposed to make any sense whatsoever?
Sissy: I just couldn’t think of anything to say after your rhapsodic paragraph that sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Anyway, read Scarlet Feather. And if you like it, read other Maeve Binchy books. 3 1/2 bubbles.
Bubby: Let me adjust my respirator here (no oxygen left in the room, you know). OK. Only 3 bubbles from me – I am still upset that Maeve Binchy passed away and so I won’t be able to read one of her books for a while. Grief is not logical!
Click HERE to buy Scarlet Feather from Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013