Sunday, April 3, 2011

Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis from
Acclaimed Christian fiction writer Francine Rivers's (The Atonement Child) Leota's Garden uses the image of the garden as a metaphor for the cycles of life that the characters experience. While the story revolves around a number of lives, they are all connected through Leota--an 84-year-old grandmother--and her garden, which was once a place of beauty and hope but has in recent years gone to ruin. Beginning in desolation--Leota has been neglected by her self-centered daughter, whose obsession with getting her own daughter into the best college has driven them apart--the novel slowly shows the weaving together of lives in the mysterious ways of grace: a proud and narrow-minded college student ends up learning more from Leota than he'd bargained for, and the granddaughter Leota had never been allowed to know shows up looking for some answers, and even more, looking for Leota herself. A garden blooms, the novel suggests, by getting one's hands a little dirty doing the hard work of love. --Doug Thorpe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

B-Squared’s Review:
Like all of Francine Rivers’ books, Leota’s Garden is a poignant novel that fully engages readers.  This is primarily a story of reconciliation, which blends joy, pain, insecurity, bitterness, and love among a range of other emotions into one thought-provoking plot.  Rivers’ masterful descriptions create vivid images to the central setting in the novel, Leota’s garden. Likewise, the characters are completely realistic and expertly developed. 

In many ways, Leota’s Garden is similar to Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream.  All three novels focus on familial relationships over a span of a few generations and the rifts that can develop through the lack of communication and years of festering bitterness.  Like weeds in a garden, left untended, misunderstandings and hard-feelings, will choke the life out of relationships.  The characters in Leota’s Garden, as well as readers, learn this lesson; and the challenge for both is the same: find the courage to remove the weeds and restore relationships. 

Leota’s Garden is not a light read; readers will embark on a roller coaster of emotions.  While the conclusion leaves promise for the characters’ futures, it also leaves a lingering feeling of sadness, but its applicability to real life makes it a very worthy read.

Note: While Leota’s Garden is now out-of-print, it is available as an e-book.

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