As I love gardening (I lead a gardening group and have an allotment) as much as books and travel, I jumped at the chance when Clara Diaz at Little Brown asked me if I would like a copy of The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman in return for an honest review. I had every intention of reading and reviewing this book months ago, but life got the better of me. However, good things come to those who wait and I have finally got round to reading this lovely book.
The Garden of Small Beginnings was published by Sphere, an imprint of Little Brown, on 22nd February 2018 and is available for purchase here.
The Garden of Small Beginnings
Life is about to blossom for Lili
In the three years since her husband died in a car accident, Lili has just about managed to resume her day-to-day life as a single mother and successful illustrator. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work and watch TV like a pro. But there’s still the small problem of the aching loss she feels inside.
When she’s commissioned to illustrate a series of horticultural books, and signs up to a weekly gardening class, finally her life starts to bloom again.
The class provides Lili with a new network of unexpected friends – friends with their own heartaches and problems – and, maybe, another chance at love . . .
My Review of The Garden of Small Beginnings
Young widow Lili has lost the ability to live for herself as she struggles to come to terms with her grief, juggling work and small children.
What a wonderful book The Garden of Small Beginnings is. I don’t know whether it’s because it is set four years after Dan, Lili’s husband, is killed in a car crash and she is still coming to terms with her loss that is so resonated with me because, in the last four years, my own husband has had two life threatening illnesses of cancer and a mini-stroke, my father has died and our family lost a full term still born child, but I found every word resonated with me on a very personal level.
Although this is a book about coming to terms with grief and the different ways people deal with grief, be it grief after a death, a marriage break up or the loss of a job, The Garden of Small Beginnings is by no means a depressing book. Instead, I found it joyous to read, witty and enormous fun. I found myself laughing aloud and yes, I did shed a small tear occasionally. Abbi Waxman has a fabulous, chatty style so that rather than reading a book I felt Lili’s first person narration was more like catching up with a friend on the phone with each chapter akin to a new conversation.
I loved the illustrations and the growing instructions for the plants. I’d never thought of fruit and veg in anthropomorphic terms, but the aside-like comments made me smile. I certainly will be careful when I move my strawberry bed at my allotment this year as I’d hate to freak them out! I’ve always known that gardening is good for the soul but The Garden of Small Beginnings reinforces that concept perfectly.
Initially I thought I’d find the number of characters confusing, but Abbi Waxman makes them such vibrant and distinctive individuals that I felt I knew each one intimately. I thought the way she uncovered their different aspects, especially with regard to Mike, was so well done. There’s definitely an underlying theme that we never really know others as well as we might think and that we shouldn’t judge other people on first appearances.
With a plot that revolves around a community garden and it gardeners, I really enjoyed reading The Garden of Small Beginnings as it is a touching, funny and uplifting story that made my heart sing. I thoroughly recommend it to brighten your life.
About Abbi Waxman
Abbi Waxman is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman, who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.