Award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick takes readers for the journey of a lifetime - the lifetime of Hulda Klager, wife, mother, gardener and amateur botanist - in her fictionalized biography "Where Lilacs Still Bloom." Based on the life of the woman who developed hundreds of new lilac cultivars, the story carries us from 1889 to 1958.
Klager lived in a small town in Washington, between the Lewis and Columbia Rivers. The currents of the rivers provide some of the currents of her life as she seeks to balance the pulls of duty, faith and dreaming of new plant varieties. For Klager, the garden is a metaphor for her spiritual life and the tasks necessary to develop and maintain a strong, productive plant mirror the work of growing as a person.
Within her world, Klager was a little bit of an oddity. Her eighth-grade education shouldn't have set her on a course as a botanist. The demands of her life shouldn't have left time for dreaming of new cultivars. The losses she sustained should have made her hard and bitter.
Instead, we find a strong woman who charts a course and follows it. Her faith guides her and sustains her. Her generous heart gives away the fruit of her labors so that Klager lilacs can be found all over the country.
This isn't a "read it once" kind of a book. Klager's faith in action will bring you back again and again. The testimony is quiet and subtle, more Mother Teresa than pulpit-pounding preacher. "Where Lilacs Still Bloom" is easy to read, but provides much to consider. It offers a quiet respite for the reader, an oasis of peace in an often un-peaceful world.
Check out "Where Lilacs Still Bloom" by Jane Kirkpatrick. Your heart will be glad you did.
"Where Lilacs Still Bloom" by Jane Kirkpatrick
Published by Waterbrook Press
Disclosure: This review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher with no constraints placed on its content. All opinions are my own.
"Beauty matters... God gave us flowers for a reason. I think so we'd pay attention to the details of creation and remember to trust Him in all things big or little, no matter what the challenge. Flowers remind us to put away fear, to stop our rushing and running and worrying about this and that, and for a moment have a piece of paradise right here on earth. God offers healing through flowers and brings us closer to Him."
Where Lilacs Still Bloom is an historical fiction book based on the life of German immigrant, Hulda Klager. She is a farm wife with only an eighth grade education, but she sees plants, especially flowers, as they could be with "bigger blooms, hardier stalks, richer color, and finer fragrance." Her father first sees her passion and encourages her. "Don't deny the dreams. They're a gift given to make your life full. Accept them. Reach for them. We are not here just to endure hard time until we die. We are here to live, to serve, to trust, and to create out of our longings." Hulda tries to balance her love and commitment to her husband and four kids while she quietly strives toward her first goal of a better apple. However she realized that dreams are better when shared and there begins an amazing story of faith and family, losses and restoration... and a lilac with twelve petals.
I really enjoyed this book by Jane Kirkpatrick. She let us know right up front which characters where historical and which where there to let the readers see Hulda's humble character, her compassion for people, and her pleasure at freely sharing her knowledge and her plants. There was so much in this book - beauty, pain, joy, loss with many lessons or advice tucked in between the stories told...
Life lessons: "God knew that we'd need beauty and fragrance to help us through the difficult days so He gave us flowers and let us learn on our own how their cycle of living and dying is like a garden rhythm, giving us hope each spring."
Marriage advice: "A husband needs his partner to take pleasure in his interests, to know that he provides. Her generosity of spirit adds to his confidence and to her own security."
Parenting advice: Kids need to know "that their parents love each other. The best gift we could ever give them... That and a good time with us all together in one place."
Now enjoy an amazing story and be inspired to plant, cultivate, and nurture plants AND people in your life!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Blogging for Books, Waterbrook Multnomah Publisher's book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
German immigrant and farm wife Hulda Klager possesses only an eighth-grade education -and a burning desire to create something beautiful. What begins as a hobby to create an easy-peeling apple for her pies becomes Hulda's driving purpose: a time-consuming interest in plant hybridization that puts her at odds with family and community, as she challenges the early twentieth century expectations for a simple housewife.
Through the years, seasonal floods continually threaten to erase her Woodland, Washington, garden; and a series of family tragedies cause even Hulda to question her focus. In a time of practicality, can one person's simple gifts of beauty make a difference?
Based on the life of Hulda Klager, Where Lilacs Still Bloom is a story of triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds and the power of a generous heart.
We just returned from a 2,200 mile road trip that included a visit to Hulda Klager's Lilac Gardens! One of the reason's I love books by Jane Kirkpatrick is that she writes about real people and real places.
Upon arriving at the Lilac Gardens you are greeted with a beautiful rose garden in front of her home. Jane writes, "I'd planted. I saw progress and even decided to shape a garden plot at the front of the house and make it like a flatiron. That way when I'm working in that plot, I'll imagine I'm really getting my ironing done." It is unbelievable but when you look at the rose garden, it does look like a flatiron!
Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens "Flatiron rose garden."
As you walk towards the back of the home at Lilac Gardens, Shasta Daisy's greet you and you are reminded of Hulda's inspiration behind crossbreeding from Horticulturalist Luther Burbank. Jane writes, "I'd read of his crossbreeding a Chrysanthemum leucanthemum that grows wild in the West with Bellis perennis, a small English daisy with larger flowers and shorter stems."
Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens, "Shasta Daisy"
Touring Lilac Gardens makes Jane Kirkpatrick's book come alive! Although you must remember that it is Historical Christian Fiction, Jane's writing and characters are so real that it is hard to remember some of the writing is fiction!
Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens, "Home and Garden Paths"
I highly recommend the book, "Where Lilacs Still Bloom" by Jane Kirkpatrick! You will not be disappointed!
To visit Jane Kirkpatrick's website, click the link!
This is a novel based on a real lady's life work and life story. Hulda Klager was an amazing woman, who with only an eighth grade education, learned to breed her beloved lilacs for the characteristics she desired. The author visited Hulda's garden before starting to write this book and I'm sure that is the reason behind the title.
The setting is Woodland, Washington, where Hulda and her family lived between the Lewis and Columbia Rivers, both of which flooded regularly to the detriment of Hulda's gardens. The story picks up in 1889, when Hulda was a young mother expecting her fourth child, and goes through 1958, though Hulda lived to be nearly 97 when she died in 1960.
The bulk of the story is about Hulda's attempts to grow first a crisper apple, then a deeper hued daffodil, and for most of her life, the creamy white, and red, lilacs with 12 petals. Her life struggles are with the rivers overflowing, necessitating starting over so many times, some people judging her for trying to change things God had made, and the family health needs and losses along the way. Hulda loved her family deeply and ministered to them with flowers through the sad times.
There were fictional characters added in to the story that were hard to follow or figure out how they were ever going to connect to the story. Eventually, the connection was madeâ€”people Hulda loved and taught and healed through her flowers.
Hulda spent her life fulfilling her father's wise words of advice: "We are not here just to endure hard times until we die. We are here to live, to serve, to trust, and to create out of our longings" p. 8-9.
To me, this book was not an exciting "can't put it down" type of book, but was a "friend" I could pick up and learn from, enjoying the good times, crying with the sad times, and exulting in the successes of Hulda's experiments with nature.
Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."