A Garden in Paris. Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2005. 285 pages. [Source: Bought]
First sentence: The only problem with her life, Mary thought, was that she didn't have one.
Premise/plot: Mary Elisabeth McKibbin Davis is a fifty year old widow with a lot of regrets. The novel even opens with her contemplating suicide. (That is so not the typical start for a Christian novel.) But prompted by a cheesy, inspirational quote she dares to be brave, she dares to take the first few baby steps to living again. She writes an old friend--old lover--who lives in France. She tells him she'll be going to Paris in December and that he'll know where to meet her on Christmas Eve if he wants to see her again. She regrets how they ended things--abruptly with the oh-so-public announcement of her engagement.
Another regret Mary Davis has is that she does not have a good relationship with her daughter, Elizabeth. Her daughter (Liz) is barely civil to her--even when the two are in front of others, perhaps particularly when they're in front of others (like the board of the family business, like Liz's fiancé, Jeff.) Mary wants to be close(r) to her daughter but Liz seems unwilling to make the effort.
Most of all Mary regrets that she let her husband take away all the bits and pieces that made her her. She finds herself asking Who am I? What do I want? Why am I here?
So Mary journeys to Paris to the shock and dismay of her daughter. Liz finds herself questioning many things WHO IS THIS PERSON? WHY IS MOTHER ACTING THIS WAY? Liz perhaps realizes that her mother is oh-so-human and worth noticing for a change.
My thoughts: I read this practically in one sitting. It is contemporary Christian fiction. My comfort zone is historical fiction or historical romance. It's rare for me to pick up contemporary titles. But I've enjoyed Stephanie Grace Whitson's historical novels so I thought I'd take a chance on this one too. It was so GOOD.
I liked the focus on the relationship between mother and daughter and even the relationship between future son-in-law and mother-in-law. I liked how Jeff was Mary's advocate with Liz.
I liked the be-true-to-yourself theme.
I loved the characters.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible