Just when I think Francine Rivers' books can't get any better than the last one I read, I find one that does. This is a story that really hits home. We all seem to think our own family is the only dysfunctional one out there since we only see the surface of others.
Leota has been dealing with loneliness for years. The once loved and thriving garden has been overgrown and neglected since her ailing body can no longer care for it at the age of eighty four. It breaks her heart to see it this way but having her family in ruins hurts even more. She reaches out to her only friend through prayer, God.
Will the Lord answer her pleas? Can the changes that come bring comfort or will they make things more difficult. Is there any way to reconcile with her family or is it too late?
I love how this author is not afraid to delve into tough topics. She does so in such a way that the stories are realistic and believable. The characters have flaws as well as good qualities which makes them true-to-life. There is hope and love and redemption sprinkled throughout.
I recommend this novel to everyone and especially to those who deal with family difficulties. Who knows, this book might just open your heart and eyes to give you hope, as it did for me.
This was bought for my sister as a part of a birthday box of books, and imagine my delight when I was granted the opportunity to read the book on my own. Having enjoyed reading Francine River's book in the past, I was interested in reading this story. So, upon glowing reviews from my sister I set upon reading the book.
The way Francine wrote had me captivated, finding it difficult to put the book down. I started the evening before, read some on my lunch hour and then found some quiet time where I was allowed to finish the book.
There was a lot of story within these pages, and you don't realize as you are deep into the book just how much is interwoven within these pages. The way that you get within the thoughts of the grandmother, Leota, for me was fascinating.
The story made me think of my own grandmother, and how I want to do more for her than ever. Living with her daughter, she is stuck in her own schedule of her own making. But what if I made an effort to visit her more often, take her out and do things and break up the monotony of life? What if her great-grandchildren had the opportunity and wanted to visit with her more often? I think of the life that she lived and the lives that have begat from her line. The stories she must want to tell, but only if we would give her the chance to do so. I don't want the years to pass by and me wondering one day, why I couldn't have spent more time with her.
But back to the story. I enjoyed watching the growth of Corban, although the story line with Ruth was understandable, but yet could have done without the drama that was associated with this particular story. Then there was Annie, and we are introduced to her as she has taken the first step towards independence on refusing to go to the school of her mother's choosing. Instead, she seeks out an art school and from a longing within, seeks out her grandmother.
Rather than go further with the story, there are a few things at the closing of the book that bothered me. For one, after an incident at the hospital, I refused to read any more of the book. Instead I opted to just skim along and get to the end. To me the incident was completely unnecessary and cast a dark pall on the book. Where there was a chance of redeeming forgiveness, there was instead an unresolved darkness.
The other was Annie's refusal to date, and it was never really explained in the book, only implied that the men would figure out her reasonings with time. But I, the one reading the book, couldn't figure out her reasonings. I needed a hint as to what she was trying to get across to them.
Third, I understand the purpose perhaps of having a dramatic end to a book and pushing people towards thinking of their actions, lest they live with regret. But it would have been nice had the story somehow given Nora the opportunity to have learned the facts of her mother before the incident in the hospital and not after.
There were other little things that bothered me, despite the wonderful telling of the book in the first part. There were so many characters, so many mini dramas that I felt it took away from the core of the story.
So would I recommend this book? I'm not sure. There are parts that I liked, but the last part of the book killed it for me. Therefore, based on that, and that alone I would have to say no.
Leota Reinhardt married for love, but when World War II came along her husband Bernard left her and their children to fight the evil that threatens to take over Europe. Unable to make it on her own she moves in with her husband parents, where the barrier of language and culture make living under the same roof a difficult challenge. Her only bright spot is her garden where she watches while her plants come to life under her care. Now that she is nearing the end of her life, Leota greives for the fact that her children dont speak to her and her garden that now lays in ruins.
Nora Reinhardt Gaines has tried all her life to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. Memories of her mother leaving her day after day with her grandmother Reinhardt have left her with a shallow faith deep scars that she desperately tries to hide.
Annie Gaines, Noras daughter, has had enough of her mothers over bearing ways. With college looming, Annie decides that it is time to follow the Lords direction for her life and she decides to move to Oakland and go to art school instead of the prestigious college her mother has chosen for her. And connecting with her grandmother Leota is an unexpected bonus for Annie.
Leotas Garden is a character driven emotional roller-coaster book. One chapter you are laughing out loud and the next you are crying. Its storyline moves at a good pace and is not overly complicated. This is the sign of a well written novel. I couldnt put it down.
If you are new to Francine Rivers give this book a try. You wont be disappointed.