Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Garden of Happy Endings

The Garden of Happy Endings
Barbara O'Neal

The Garden of Happy Endings

Genre: Women's Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads):  From Barbara O’Neal, beloved author of How to Bake a Perfect Life and The Lost Recipe for Happiness, comes another magical, heartfelt novel—perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah and Susan Wiggs.

After tragedy shatters her small community in Seattle, the Reverend Elsa Montgomery has a crisis of faith. Returning to her hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, she seeks work in a local soup kitchen. Preparing nourishing meals for folks in need, she keeps her hands busy while her heart searches for understanding.

Meanwhile, her sister, Tamsin, as pretty and colorful as Elsa is unadorned and steadfast, finds her perfect life shattered when she learns that her financier husband is a criminal. Enduring shock and humiliation as her beautiful house and possessions are seized, the woman who had everything now has nothing but the clothes on her back.

But when the going gets tough, the tough get growing. A community garden in the poorest, roughest part of town becomes a lifeline. Creating a place of hope and sustenance opens Elsa and Tamsin to the renewing power of rich earth, sunshine, and the warm cleansing rain of tears. While Elsa finds her heart blooming in the care of a rugged landscaper, Tamsin discovers the joy of losing herself in the act of giving—and both women discover that with time and care, happy endings flourish

Review: I picked this up from the library because I had previously enjoyed O'Neal's How to Bake a Perfect Life, and I hoped this book would be just as entertaining.  The primary plot involves Elsa's crisis of faith, and I found her emotions realistic and relatable, and her struggles thought-provoking.  There are some elements of the paranormal, which I generally find hard to believe, but they were presented in such a way that I wanted to believe in them.  My problems with this book were the characters of Tamsin and her daughter Alexa, who came across as completely spoiled and out of touch with reality.  While I understand that good books can (or even should) have unlikable characters, I felt like the author had intended them to be quirky, sympathetic, likable people, and I just didn't see them that way.  Overall, though, this is a feel good book with interesting characters and relationships and the added bonus of imparting gardening knowledge and describing delicious sounding food.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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