Stephanie Grace Whitson,
A Garden in Paris
(Bethany House, 2005)

This is a gem of a story. Even though I didn't think so at the beginning, because I found the first two chapters a bit vague and lacking information, once the story got rolling, everything made perfect sense. By the end of the book, Mary Elizabeth, the main character, is no longer a mystery, and is a wonderful character to know.

This story of a 50-year-old woman, widowed for two years, relates a movement from the sorrow of loss into the wonderment of change and renewal. Though Mary revisits her past in a bold and nostalgic way by writing and mailing a letter to her past love, this unusual move is the beginning of her search for the person she was long before her marriage into a successful corporate, distinguished family.

There are beautiful scenes in this book -- beautiful in a way that makes you feel. As the character, Liz, comes to life and comes to know her self once again -- which sounds so trite, but in this book, isn't -- the author shares with us many poignant moments. Your heart will pain and ease, tingle with joy, and feel gentle apprehension as decisions are made and new routes explored.

No pat storyline, no characters made to formula, there is only a bright cast who tries to love, grow and understand the foibles, failings and feelings of each other. I think this is a worthy book, a story any 50-year-old woman would enjoy and a story any woman should consider reading.

by Virginia MacIsaac
12 August 2006

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