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Susannah's Garden
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Product Description

It was the year that changed everything...When Susannah Nelson turned eighteen, she said goodbye to her boyfriend, Jake, and never saw him again. She never saw her brother, Doug, again, either. He died unexpectedly that same year. Now, at fifty, Susannah finds herself regretting the paths not taken. Long married, a mother and a teacher, she should be happy. But she feels there's something missing in her life. Not only that, she's balancing the demands of an aging mother and a temperamental twenty-year-old daughter. Her mother, Vivian, a recent widow, is having difficulty coping and living alone, so Susannah goes home to Colville, Washington. In returning to her parents' house, her girlhood friends and the garden she's always loved, she also returns to the past -- and the choices she made back then. What she discovers is that things are not always as they once seemed. Some paths are dead ends. But some gardens remain beautiful...

Customer Reviews:

  • Relaxing reading
    I enjoyed this book immensely. As a new Debbie Macomber fan, this was a wonderful introduction for me. I found it a very realistic book, as the condition of Susannah's aging Mom is similar to my own. I identified with lots of the story and loved the sweet way the book ends. I heartily recommend it....more info
  • Weak, emotionally overwrought plot about a mother and daughter relationship
    Every now and then I indulge in a guilty pleasure, sometimes taking in a contemporary novel that's written on the light side. I've read two of Debbie Macomber's previous novels, and while I didn't find them that challenging or stimulating, they were good for several hours of mindless entertainment, and certainly better than turning on the television.

    Susannah lives near Seattle, and has what can be considered a good life -- she's married to a successful dentist, has two nearly grown children, a nice home, and a career as a teacher. Summer break is approaching and Susannah is going to return to the hometown where she grew up in Eastern Washington. A personal crisis is threatening to overturn her carefully arranged life.

    Susannah's mother, Vivian, is clearly not well after the death of her husband, the local judge. George Leary was a strict man, running his family pretty much as he did his courtroom, even after a tragic accident killed his only son, Doug. That loss affected everyone in the family, especially Susannah, who was away finishing up her schooling in France. The loss of her brother hit her hard, and Susannah struggled not only with death, but the coldness from her father, and her mother's own manipulative nature. Now Vivian seems to be unable to cope with being a widow, and has been found wandering alone in the streets, confused, and accusing her neighbors and housekeeper of theft and spying on her.

    Now Susannah has to travel to Colville, and try to persuade her mother that it might be best if she entered an 'assisted living' arrangement. And Vivian, with all of the toughness of an elderly person, is equally determined to stay in her own home, thank you. Once Susannah arrives at her mother's home, a not-too-subtle war begins, with both sides focused on what they want.

    To complicate matters further, Susannah is finding herself thinking about her high-school sweetheart, Jake Priestly, who vanished soon after her brother died. More annoying still, there's her daughter, Chrissie, home from college from the summer and frustrated by the lack of a boyfriend, a job, and turned into the family maid-of-all-work for her brother and father. Chrissie in turn, comes to Colville to 'help' her mother with Vivian, and getting the place tidying, but soon enough she's off having a good time with one of the local bad boys.

    As Susannah struggles to make sense of things and get her mother settled, we encounter old friends, possible ghosts, family secrets and enough self-talk and musing and slamming doors to fill at least a week of soap-operas. Susannah, despite her flurrying about, is more of a passive spectator throughout the book, and muddying things as she goes about.

    This is the third book that I've read by Macomber, and I suspect that it will be my last. I was only interested in the Blossom Street novels (there have been two published, and a third one has just been released in hardcover) because there was knitting and cats involved, two of my pet interests. And several of the characters in the two novels had been through similar experiences that I had been.

    But here, Susannah is wandering through life with blinkers on, not realizing just how good she's got things, and her mother Vivian is a figure of sympathy as well as being a harridan. Chrissie is a brat, and other characters are simple one notes. In short, I cared little for anyone in the novel as they go through their middle class lives without realizing that most things are pretty messy at times.

    Macomber's writing style is of the sort best described as 'women's fiction;' simplistic and with an underlaying moralizing tone. Most of the time, I can put up with that. Sadly, the writing is pretty simplistic too -- you're not going to find any great flights of fancy or deep thought here. It's pure vanilla, without anything in here to offend anyone -- unless you actually live the real world.

    The only thing that saves this one from a one or two-star rating is that the main character is a middle aged woman, which was appealing in our youth-obsessed culture. But Macomber makes Susannah such a bland woman that I found it very hard to connect with her, or care about her problems.

    Overall, three stars and a not recommended, unless you're a die-hard fan of Macomber. I say skip it, and try for someone else. Better yet, just leave the book on the shelf or get it from the library. At the end of the paperback release, there is an excerpt from Macomber's next book, Back to Blossom Street, which looks to have Susannah return as a character to an earlier series.

    Eek....more info
  • Not her best effort
    I enjoy Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street stories. They provide a refreshing counterpoint to some of the other types of books I typically read. And I love their attractive cover illustrations. So when I picked up this book I looked forward to another pleasant read. But I have found myself by turns irritated at the simplistic characters, annoyed by the silly dialog, and disgusted with the trivial storyline. A fifty-year-old woman who is still hung up on her high school sweetheart is a ridiculous figure. The tortured passion of Carolyn and Dave is so Romance Novel-ish that it is laughable. And the bratty daughter is a selfish little twit.

    I'm sorry I spent money on this paperback. Ms. Macomber did not even half-try to write a decent book. She owes more to her fans....more info
  • Travelling Down the Road Not Taken
    Can you ever relive the past? Can you expect your husband of twenty-five years to have the excitement and intensity of your high school boyfriend? Susannah Leary Nelson discovers the answers to these questions and more in Debbie Macomber's heartwarming tale of a family in crisis.

    Susannah's mother, Vivian Leary, has not adjusted well to the death of her husband. She appears to be on the brink of Alzheimer's and distraught about the things she can no longer do. Susannah, restless and bored in her own marriage, decides to visit her mom and along with being a dutiful daughter perhaps track down the one who got away, the boy she has recently been dreaming of and wondering would he have been a better mate than the man she actually married.

    As if her mother's illness isn't overwhelming enough, Susannah's daughter soon shows up on summer break from college and upsets Susannah further by dating an unsavory older man. Susannah makes some bad decisions for the sake of driving the plot, decisions like leaving town when her daughter will be arriving that very day or paying blackmail money without first discussing it with her husband. Yet, we can forgive Susannah because her situation is so distressing and she is in such a state of emotional upheaval. I would suggest Debbie Macomber stick with the warm friends and family stories she does so well and stay away from mysteries. She made a valiant effort but the solution to the mystery was a little too unusual to be believable. Yet, the basic story captivated me and left me wanting more. I was thrilled at the end to discover Susannah will be opening a flower shop on Blossom Street and joining Macomber's cast of characters in the Blossom Street series.

    ...more info
  • Not good
    I was not able to finish this book. I am raising kids & I feel this is better suited to my Mom....more info
  • Very realistic
    I really enjoyed this book. I have been a fan of Debbie's for a very long time. For once, this story was based upon a 50 year old woman taking care of her elderly mother. I am currenly in the same situation and it was nice to read about realistic life issues. I read anything she publishes....more info
  • Compelling Story of the True Meaning of Love
    Now middle-aged, Susannah Nelson has everything she could ever want or need - a loving husband, two almost grown children, and a career teaching fifth graders. Then why was she feeling so dissatisfied? In addition, why was she thinking about her lost teenage love every day?

    Her father had recently died and her mother was showing acute signs of senility. Susannah was having an increasing number of dreams about her high school sweetheart who had unexpectedly disappeared after her father sent her to a boarding school in France when she was eighteen. Sensing her father had something to do with Jake's disappearance, Susannah believed her Dad's death somehow triggered the memories of the distant past. That same year her brother had died in a car accident and her father would not let her come home for the funeral adding to her confusion and hurt.

    Susannah decided to go to Colville, Washington as soon as school was out for the summer to convince her mother to enter an assisted living facility. Besides, if she took the trip by herself, she could search for clues as to what happened to Jake.

    What she found relieved many unanswered questions and gave her the strength to face the future.

    Debbie Macomber weaves a story taut with emotion, memories, loss, and regret. She deftly draws the reader into the soul of each character so the reader feels what they feel and understands their struggles. The characters are believable and the tension between family members palpable. What family has not questioned their role in the family unit and wondered what might have been if different decisions had been made.

    Susannah's Garden is a compelling story of a family who learns the true meaning of love, even when that means letting go of expectations and control.

    Susannah's Garden
    ...more info
  • Suzannah's Surprise Garden
    This was a good story that moved at a fast pace and kept the pages turning. Perfect when you need to get things off your mind and lose yourself in someone else and their difficulties. I chose it to compare the story with my own family member who will need assisted living very soon. It was helpful to learn the similarities and encouraging that things might just work out well with a little patience. I did not expect to be also reading a very interesting mystery ! It was a surprise and a great escape. Macomber always places a life lesson in her stories and this one has more than a couple. Worth the read....more info
  • I really wanted to like this book but...
    Susannah's Garden had so much potential. There was so much going on Susannah's dealing with the lingering issues with her father who died recently who was dictorial and distant who sent her away from home to get her away from her boyfriend Jake and wouldn't let her come home when her brother was killed in a car accident. Its also becoming clear that her mother Vivan is no longer able to care for herself and Susannah must deal with the painful decision to put her mother in assisted living and decide what to do with her childhood home and memories. Susannah's clearly having a midlife crisis has began dreaming about Jake and the "what ifs" despite the fact she's married with two almost grown children. Susannah decides to go home to Colville to deal with her mother. Her daughter Chrissie shows up and begins dating a boy Susannah doesn't approve off and Susannah finds herself in her father's position. It all had the set up to being really good as Susannah worked throught all of the issues but the author fails in the execution of dealing with the issues and ending the book. Spoilers follow. The extent that Susannah went to search for Jake without ever really considering the fact she was putting her own marriage at risk or what it might do to her husband or kids made it really difficult to be rooting for Susannah. Not that it really mattered because when Susannah's husband did find out Susannah hired a PI to hunt down her ex-boyfriend they have one small argument on the phone and...that's it. That's it? One argument on the phone? Susannah makes a comment later that they've worked everything out without to the reader how that happened. After all the build up to it and there's no fallout? No real showing Susannah of what her actions had done? I would have liked even just one scene where Susannah worried that she might have just cost herself her marriage. Then there's the learning of what really happened to Jake..and what really happened to her brother Doug. Jake was killed in the car accident instead of her brother Doug who assumed his identy and had been hiding out for decades from the police who wanted him for a federal crime he had return to Colville pretending to be someone else and dating her Susannah's friend. Instead of coming up with a way to either clear Doug of all the charges or some normal resoltion instead the author decides to not do any of these things but just keep Doug leaving under his assumed identy including not telling his mother that he's alive. Sure Vivan met him but has assumed in her altmizer's mind that he's the ghost of her dead husband. That's a solution? All I could think was how cruel what was? Never let the poor woman know her son is alive? What about Jake's father who doesn't even know his son is dead? It just seem all wrong to me. Not to mention the odds of dodging the government for the rest of his life. The same with Susannah's decision to pay off her daughter's boyfriend (like her father had done with Jake) to get him out of her life. Sure the boyfriend's a two timing lowlife who offered the deal to Susannah but...Susannah actually pays him? And this is the solution to get him out of Chrissie's life? How about Chrissie finding out her boyfriend's a lowlife? Maybe even learn something from the experience or realize she deserves a lot more from a boyfriend or the satasfication that comes from kicking the lowlife to the curb? Instead the author creates solutions for the problems that aren't solutions at all because no one learns any lessons from their actions. That really's sad because it could have been a really good book.

    ...more info
  • Captivating Drama with suspense
    It took me a few chapters to get involved in this book however, Debbie Macomber has done it once again. This book goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. Wether it is family or friends she shows so much emotion of lifes trials and tribulations. If your ready for a roller coaster of a book you will enjoy this one. I don't think my review will say it even close enough but I think you should give this book a try. Now I am going for Back On Blossom Street to see how this one is. See you all in the future....more info
  • Great BOOK!
    I bought this book for my mom, she's 85. The author is one of her all time favorites (mine too) and she loves the story. Of course, you can't go wrong with a Debbie Macomber story if you're looking for warmth, romance and good taste in a wonderfully well written book....more info
  • Another winner for Debbie Macomber
    Being a fan of Debbie Macomber did not prepare me for this powerful book. How does she think of such unexpected twists in her plots?? For those who have elderly parents, this may be "a good read"....more info