My Review of “Perennials” by Julie Cantrell

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byJulie Cantrell(Goodreads Author)
“This is a book to read more than once.” —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author

“If Julie Cantrell isn’t on your reading list, she should be.” —Lisa Wingate, national bestselling author

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.

Eva Sutherland—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Mississippi, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries it caused, changed everything. Her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage. Bitsy became the homecoming queen and the perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.

At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona. Free from Bitsy’s vicious lies, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself. But at forty-five, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that led her here.

When her father calls insisting she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at her wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.

Lovey is drawn in to a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning how to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.

Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.(less)

Paperback, 368 pages
My Review of “Perennials” by Julie Cantrell
Kudos to Julie Cantrell, author of “Perennials” for such an emotional and heartwarming novel. The symbolism in this book, leads to many layers of life. The genres of this novel are Fiction and Women’s Fiction. The timeline of this story as it relates to the characters is the present and as the two sisters in the story were growing up. The story take place mostly in Oxford,Mississippi, where the author shows her characters love for literature, history  and flowers. It also takes place in Arizona.
The blurb from the books says”When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.” The father wants to give his wife  a “memory garden” as a special present. The mother has a love for all perennials and living things.
The author describes her characters as complicated and complex. She often uses the symbolic example of a garden, seed, roots foundation, care, love and growth  to compare to the characters. The lesson of Judas is brought up and is used to explore the characters flaws, betrayals, secrets, needs, strengths and weaknesses. The author also discusses the concept of “Family First ” in this story.  Also discussed is sibling rivalry. Secrets and lies also are in this story.
Lovey has left Mississippi at an early age headed to Arizona, where she is a financial success in advertising, and also teaches Yoga. She is called home to help celebrate her loving parents 50th Wedding Anniversary.  Told it is an emergency, Lovely leaves immediately and sees her estranged sister Bitsy.  Bitsy has two children that Lovely  has longed  to have a relationship with, but  Bitsy has kept them away from her. What has made Bitsy so bitter and angry?  What had made Lovely leave Mississippi, and go to Arizona.? What is so important that her parents want Lovely home?
I appreciate the historical research that Julie Cantrell has done in the literature, flowers, and gardens.  I love that the author discusses sibling rivalry, betrayal and loyalty, lies and the truth. self-worth,  and growth, and positive people and positive things in our lives. The author also talks about the importance of  family, friends, support, encouragement, growth, love and hope. Be warned: there are a few Kleenex moments. I would highly recommend this book to readers who appreciate a loving and memorable story. I received this Advanced Reading Copy for my honest review.

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