I’m pleased to be on Chick Lit Central’s blog tour for Barbara Josselsohn’s The Lily Garden. It’s a heart-warming story with relatable, dynamic characters and great messages. Let’s take a look:
About the Book:
Title: The Lily Garden
Author: Barbara Josselsohn
Publication Date: July 2, 2021
Page Length: 256
Synopsis: When Caroline left Lake Summers thirty years ago, she thought she’d never go back to the place where she lost her parents. But when she finds out that the town’s lily garden lovingly built by her mother is going to be destroyed, she knows fate is calling. Dropping everything at her office in Chicago, she knows she is the only person who can save the garden.
Caroline and her daughter Lee are welcomed home by the warm smile of her mother’s best friend Maxine, and piles of pancakes at her cozy little restaurant in town. And Caroline soon learns that she isn’t the only person invested in saving her mother’s legacy, when she meets handsome historian Aaron. As she gets to know him, strolling along the sparkling lakeshore, she can’t imagine anywhere else she’d rather be.
But then Caroline learns a terrible secret about the day her mother died. And soon the real reason Aaron is in Lake Summers comes to light. Will the truth about the people she loves force her to give up a future with Aaron, and the beautiful town that has always been in her heart?
An utterly uplifting and heart-warming story about forgiveness and family. Perfect for fans of Carolyn Brown, Debbie Macomber and Mary Alice Monroe.
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About the Author:
Barbara Josselsohn is an award-winning writer who loves crafting stories about strong protagonists facing a fork in the road. Her novels include The Bluebell Girls, The Lilac House, The Last Dreamer, and her newest release, The Lily Garden. She has published hundreds of articles about family, home and relationships in national and regional publications, and also teaches novel writing at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She lives just north of New York City and enjoys escaping to the beach or the mountains whenever she can. Other than writing, her biggest passion is her family: her husband, her three kids, and her indefatigable shih-poo! Visit her online at www.BarbaraSolomonJosselsohn.com, @Barbara_Josselsohn_Author (Instagram), @BarbaraJoss (twitter) or Facebook.com/BarbaraSolomonJosselsohnAuthor
Caroline is getting ready to take a two-week vacation with her daughter Lee so that they can tour several colleges. But when she hears that her deceased mother’s beloved garden is going to be torn down, Caroline adjusts their plans and returns with Lee to her childhood home of Lake Summers to save it. As she works to protect the garden her mother cherished, Caroline learns more about her parents, her other loved ones, and her daughter.
I really enjoyed this heart-warming story. Caroline is a relatable and well-developed protagonist, as are many of the other people introduced. Each is unique and interesting and adds so much to the plot. Several characters, including Caroline, Aaron, and Lee, go through such an emotional journey throughout the story. Caroline, for example, slowly learns the truths of the past, which are very different from what she has believed all of her life. She is a woman who felt like she had no choices, and she has steeled her heart so it couldn’t be broken again. Caroline has played it safe, emotionally speaking, and has kept people at a distance. It is only when she goes back home that she truly faces her feelings. She also comes to terms with being an almost empty-nester who wants more in her life. She finds this in Lake Summers with old and new friends.
Aaron, Caroline’s potential love interest, has his own journey to get through, and he has major life decisions to make. As he gets to know Caroline and her extended “family,” he starts to put things in perspective and realizes what he wants in life. Lee is a young woman preparing for college who fears disappointing her mother. I found all of these characters realistic and relatable, and I was wholly rooting for their happiness.
I also love the amount of food talk in the story. When Caroline returns to Lake Summers, she and Lee stay with her mother’s best friend Maxine, who runs a local restaurant. The food described sounds mouth-wateringly delicious, and I craved the chicken parmesan, brownies, pie, and other decadently described dishes. The small-town feel of Lake Summers is another great element of the novel. Local festivities and activities, friendly neighbors, and old friends reinforce the charming and inclusive nature of Lake Summers. One of my favorite locations in Lake Summers is the lily garden.
The garden, which is located behind the public library, has become unkempt and unsafe. Instead of repairing it, the town wants to get rid of it and expand the library, much to Caroline’s dismay. The lily garden has a special place in her heart, as it was her mother’s. The garden, which was the location of many marriage proposals and other special events, is symbolic not just of Caroline’s mother, but of the promises, dreams, and love within the community. There are memories in that garden that are hard to ignore and impossible to erase. I think that’s why Caroline works so hard to protect it. The garden is a treasure and part of her childhood. It is one of the few places where she felt complete happiness and love with her parents, and she’s not ready to let go of it.
The garden comes to symbolize other things throughout the story, including Caroline’s unwillingness to let Lee grow and change. On the cusp of adulthood, Lee is very different from Caroline, and her ambitions clash with Caroline’s hopes. I think returning to Lake Summers and confronting her past allows Caroline to be more aware of what is happening in her present, especially in regard to her relationship with Lee. Caroline has regrets, and she didn’t feel like she had choices, and she never wants Lee to feel that way. However, it takes returning to her childhood home to realize that she is not truly listening to and accepting her daughter.
The importance of family, friendship, honoring the past while living for the present and future, and staying true to yourself are all highlighted in this heart-warming story. I think readers who enjoy contemporary fiction with dynamically developed characters and a bit of romance will adore this book, and I am so thankful to Netgalley, Barbara Josselsohn, Bookouture, and Chick Lit Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The character development.
- The strong messages.
- The small town charm.
- The symbolism.
Was that what happened when you left a place you loved when you were a child? Did you need to come back regularly to stop the walls from forming?
“You don’t make gardens for today,” she’d say when April rolled around. “You make them for tomorrow and the tomorrow after that.”
You have to believe that everything you care about will last and last. Because that’s the only way you can truly give your heart.
There’s a limit to what a person owes their family. When it interferes with what you owe yourself, then you have to put an end to it.
This is a great book for readers who enjoy contemporary fiction or women’s fiction with great characters and strong messages.