In Washington State, German immigrant Hulda Klager takes her love flowers, her experience as a farmer's wife, and her limited education to become a bold, adventurous woman when such was absolutely not a normal occurrence.
Without the knowledge and consent of her husband (and such was definitely the thing to do at that period of time), she took her observations of variants in hue and shape, texture and size to begin her experiments in the cultivation of bulbs, shrubs, and apple trees. Her success in grafting apples to create an easier to peel and tastier apple resulted in a product that she loved - and so did her husband. From that point on, he became a supporter of her endeavors. At least as long as she got her household duties done, too.
Life was not without tragedy for her family. Death, flood, sadness. But Hulda was a woman of faith and trust in God.
"Beauty matters_ it does. God gave us flowers for a reason. 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."
Where Lilacs Still Bloom is a biographical novel - that is it is closely based on the life of Hulda Klager and her work developing lilac varieties and her Woodland, Washington, garden.
Author Jane Kirkpatrick has written a gentle novel about a gentle lady who achieves much as a wife, mother, plant hybridization genius, friend and counselor.
Jane Kirkpatrick is a best-selling, award-winning author whose previous historical novels include All Together in One Place and Christy Award finalist A Tendering in the Storm. An international keynote speaker, she has earned regional and national recognition for her stories based on the lives of actual people, including the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Hall of Fame. Jane is a Wisconsin native who since 1974 has lived in Eastern Oregon, where she and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 rugged acres.
I received a complimentary copy of Where the Lilacs Still Bloom from Blogging for Books on behalf of the author and publisher in order to render a review and my honest opinion.
It's spring, and I'm enjoying my first real garden ever, and it's in the dream house I live in with my sweet husband. So, reading the back of "Where Lilacs Still Bloom" by Jane Kirkpatrick, it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. At the center of the story are the flowers. Hulda, a German immigrant, lives in a small Oregon town. She has a talent for seeing the potential in plants...first she grafts two apple plants together to produce a new breed that is larger and easier to peel for pie. She next sets her sights on creating a creamy white lilac with 12 petals (they usually have four). Over the decades as her flowers evolve, she shares cuttings with dozens of visitors to start their own gardens. On the East Coast, a young new bride delves into horticulture to unlock a deeper connection with her new husband, a devoted horticulturalist. And in California, an aspiring writer develops a passion for plants to help her column readers better care for their gardens. The climax (and the flowers) bring the three women together, but the end of the book will bring tears to your eyes. Hulda's town is at the crux of two rivers, prone to flooding. When Hulda loses all her lilacs (and her belongings) in a devastating floods, offspring from the thousands of cuttings she shared over the years pour in. Along with her family, Hulda, now in her 80s, replants the lilacs. Just before her death, she uncovers her prized cream lilac with its 12 petals. You can't help but cheer for her. Based on a true story, this book captures you with its tenderness and perseverance. Kirkpatrick is new author to me, and I guarantee I'll read her stories again.
I struggled with "Where Lilacs Still Bloom". I picked it up and put it back down at least five times. I started it, and it seemed like a book I would enjoy, but the story travels from one character to another and I found it confusing. There may very well be one of those "tie it all together" chapters toward the end, but I never made it that far. I had a similar experience with another one of Jane Kirkpatrick's books, so it may be that I just don't mesh with her writing style. Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for allowing me the opportunity to preview this book for free.
If you're lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest like I do, you may have already heard of the "Lilac Lady", Hulda Klager. Her magnificent garden, filled with lilacs she hybridized is a traditional trek for many springtime garden enthusiasts. Her story, however, was in need of just the kind of wordsmithing that Jane Kirkpatrick provides.
Hulda Klager was born in Germany, immigrated to the US as a baby and was only educated to the 8th grade. In a time when being a wife and mother was supposed to fulfill all a woman's desires, she dared to dream bigger. Her interest in plants and especially lilacs began her quest to create a lilac with more petals, better fragrance and sturdier blooms. In a time when women scientists were few and some still believed that hybridizing was interfering with God's creation, Hulda moved forward toward her goal with passion. Supported by her husband and family, Hulda brought forth lilac hybrids that are still being planted today.
Jane's story of Hulda's life is a type of hybrid itself. Fiction based on real events told with a terrific, believable voice and characters that are strong and vibrant. Even if plants are not your thing, you'll be moved by this story of family, faith, and generosity. If you are inclined to play in the dirt, however, you may just want to start figuring out where to plant your next lilac!
This book was provided to me for this review by Waterbrook Press as part of their Blogging for Books program.
This is a wonderful read of a woman with determination, brilliant mind, a love of God's creation with a scientists curiosity that drove her to explore and experiment for years with nothing more than an 8th grade education, what her dad had taught her and what she learned from trial and error and years later from reading.
What makes this book so good is the fact that it is a true story. That this family really lived these struggles for all these years. I find it sad that it took so very long into their marriage for her to realize how very much her husband understood and loved her and her drive and heart. I think she missed out on a LOT by hiding so much of herself from him for so long. (Or rather, thinking she was).
I am very thankful that I was sent this book by Blogging for Books for my review. Because otherwise I might never have read it and I would have missed out on a real treasure! I have lived in Lynnwood, WA. and have family that lives in Woodinville, WA. It was great to read history about that area! I am going to recommend they read this book ASAP!!