Loosely based on true events, this is a multi-generational tale about relationships and family. Short, punchy chapters provide a fragmented framework to the stories, which gradually begin to come together into a whole. In 1920 Irini Gaspari, a young Greek woman, leaves behind all that she holds dear – her family, and particularly her friend Martha – and emigrates to America, bound for an arranged marriage to a man she has never met. After tragedy strikes and her closely-knit family gradually seems to crumble to pieces, little Marieta finds her own path into womanhood in the changing world of the 1950s and 1960s. She faces struggles and joys, and tends to her garden where each plant and tree bears a memory of someone, while a dianthus holds a bitter secret. Jumping forward to 2010, in Akron, Ohio two brothers, Herman and Richard, in spite of their very different personalities, seem to have in common an awkward relationship with love. In their own, de-romanticised ways, they are looking for ‘the one.’ They navigate romance, and take care of an ageing mother riddled with dementia and an obsession for…her garden. The lives of these characters are interwoven through Frieda Kahlo: an introspective and enigmatic calico cat who drifts between reality and the spiritual world, connecting the generations of characters. A mysterious character reveals his true identity at the end of the novel, and sets the scene for a happy ending.
All the more impressive when considering that “The Various Stages of a Garden Well Kept” is author R. R. Davis’ debut as a novelist, this original and exceptionally well written collection of memorable characters and an inherently interesting and narrative driven story of the emigrant in America is especially and unreservedly recommended.
– Midwest Book Review
Almost otherworldly… a story of love and loss, but it is ultimately buoyed by the possibility of what fresh insights a new season might bring to light.
– Bold Life