May 7, 2012

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick

A NEW FAVORITE OF 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing April 17, 2012
Literary/Historical Christian Fiction
Paperback 384 pages
Review copy from the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Fantastic!

One woman, an impossible dream, and the faith it took to see it through.
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 an impossible dream and the power of a generous heart.


“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.”
The endearing and captivating prose of Jane Kirkpatrick vividly brings to life the whimsy of lilacs and the lives that they inspired in this story of love, loyalty, faith, friendship, and flowers. The novel follows the path of Hulda, of German descent, raising her family during the early 1900's in Washington State. Cross breeding plants was Hulda's passion, and she enjoyed bringing her family into her flowery dreams of improved apples, lilacs and daffodils.

The story is not all about Hulda, however. It reaches for a saga type nuance by bringing in new characters, such as Shelly and Bill Snyder in Baltimore, and Shelly's overbearing mother-in-law. Flowers are incorporated their story, too. The neighbor girls, their families, and Hulda's daughters all bring new characters to add to the all-encompassing feel of togetherness and community. And there was Fritz, the most loyal and dear son a mother could hope for.

And of course there is Hulda's husband Frank, who had an endearing way of saying "I submit" often. After horses trampled Hulda's precious garden, Frank empathized but said "But you'll make lemonade of it, after all, I submit. Yes, indeed, that's what I submit."

Imagery and metaphors - such as walking on lily pads when speaking to someone who was grieving for a loved one - graced the pages, and the spirit of Hulda's passion shone with glistening hope as I read and devoured this story. There is no way my simple words can express the level of emotion I felt while reading this story, which was fraught with ups and downs of a family, from happy moments to tragic events all happening to Hulda as she strove for that perfect creamy white twelve petal lilac. The story of Hulda Klager touched my soul as I cried during the floods and the deaths that Hulda had endured during her very long life. Touching upon the questions of faith versus nature versus God's creation, the tone of the book was such that I could not put it down. Where Lilacs Still Bloom is the epitome of a page turner.

Most of all refreshing and touching, Hulda was indeed a real person, and the author brilliantly brought this special person back to life. I was so enamored with the story that I wept right along with Hulda, just as if she were my own grandmother. I would be remiss if I didn't pay homage to the lilac: the fragrance of the flower that I can still recall after leaving behind my lilac bush seventeen years ago. I still think of that very lilac bush from time to time. I wish the lilac would bloom in Texas, but I will have to settle for the memories, which will now include this fantastic and mesmerizing novel.

With both historical details and factual details regarding flowers, Where Lilacs Still Bloom incorporates many elements which makes it indescribable. This book goes to top of my list as the Best of 2012. I can hardly contain myself as I want to go and buy all of Jane Kirkpatrick's books immediately. Where to begin?!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this honest review. I thank them wholeheartedly for this amazing experience.

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 Review: Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick
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