Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert

If the publicist for Mary Rickert's blog tour for her debut novel, The Memory Garden, hadn't
already enticed me into reviewing the book, one line of the author's biography in the book might have drawn me in. It reads, "There are, of course, mysterious gaps in this account of her life, and that is where the truly interesting stuff happened." How can you resist that line?

Or what about this line from the book? "How do the girls with dreams as big as the world end up old women with regrets?" The Memory Garden is a story of regrets, and forgiveness, friendship lost, ghosts, witches, and memories. It's a story of the secrets women once knew, secrets that made them appear to be witches to some. Those were secrets of flowers and herbs, what to do to save a life or change a life.

Each chapter of The Memory Garden includes information about the uses of flowers. And, women who knew those uses, women who lived in strange houses, and had cats, were often considered women with strange powers, witches to some. The actual opening of the story reads, "Over the years, shoes were often thrown at the old house brooding atop its slope on Muir Glenn Road." Over the years, Nan added those shoes to her garden, and grew plants in them, just one more reason townspeople considered her odd. But, at 78, Nan is worried about the daughter she adopted. Bay is only fifteen, a typical moody teen, but one who lacks friends and is called names by kids at school because of where she lives and the woman she calls mother. It's time for Nan to tell her the truth about "everything", what happened in the past, and what powers Bay may have. It's time for Nan to call on friends she hasn't seen in over fifty years.

Nan and Mavis and Ruthie had once shared a secret, but their friendship had not survived the loss of a fourth friend, Eve. So, Nan calls them home, inviting them so she can reveal her secrets to Bay. But, Mavis and Ruthie have secrets they haven't told Nan. Their arrival seems to stir up unusual events and fears. Bay, a teen confused about her life and her future, is equally confused as to why these women show up. And, why does Eve's great-niece show up, saying she's writing a book? And, who are the ghosts who appear to Bay?

Rickert's debut novel is an unusual story of aging and fear and loss. At the same time, it has powerful messages of hope. Just as flowers can have good and bad usages and messages, people can take different paths. And, sometimes it takes an entire lifetime to understand the direction taken.

The publicist enticed me saying some have compared Rickert's book to Sarah Addison Allen. I don't think so. This is a book with a darker, more haunting side. I'm much more inclined to agree with author Joshilyn Jackson who said of The Memory Garden, "An atmospheric, eerie, and utterly beautiful debut."

Each blogger who participated in the blog tour was sent a flower card. Mine, Honeysuckle, reads,
"Sometimes referred to as 'Love Bind,' the honeysuckle's flowers look like intertwined lovers. Its heady fragrance induces dreams of love and passion. Honeysuckle protects the garden from evil and is considered one of the most important herbs for releasing poisons from the body."

Here are the other bloggers on the blog tour:

Blog Name
Blog Link
Linus' Blanket
Royal Reviews
Book Bag Lady
Lesa's Book Critiques
The Bibliotaphe Closet

Bookalicious Babe
Mirabile Dictu
Story Matters

Mary Rickert's website is

The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert. Sourcebooks Landmark. 2014. ISBN 9781402297120 (paperback), 295p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I was sent the book in order to participate in the blog tour.


Libby Dodd said...

Fascinating Thanks for sharing it with us.

Beth Hoffman said...

I put this book on my list a few weeks ago, and your review has prompted me to move it up higher!

Hugs to you and the kitties!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Libby. It is a fascinating book. I tried to answer you earlier, but Blogger was giving me problems.

Lesa said...

I'll be interested to see what you think, Beth. Hugs back!

Melissa @ My Recent Favorite Books said...

This sounds like a interesting book. Thank you for sharing your review!

Mary Rickert said...

Lesa, thanks for taking the time to read and review my book. I really appreciate it.