A Victory Garden for Trying Times

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

A woman’s journey through a year of love, loss, and despair.

Ever since her childhood on a Niagara farm, Debi has dug in the dirt to find resilience. But when her husband, Peter, was diagnosed with cancer in November, it was too late in the season to seek solace in her garden. With idle hands and a fearful mind, Debi sought something to sustain her through the months ahead. She soon came across Victory Gardens — the vegetable gardens cultivated during the world wars that sustained so many.

Her words felt so vivid and touching. Her precision with plants was appreciated from a botanist's pov
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A Victory Garden for Trying Times is the author’s personal perspective on navigating grief. From the time he is diagnosed, through relapses, side effects and promising progress, up until his sudden death, Debi Goodwin shares her moments of despair, hope, numbness and fierce determination to remain positive and supportive of her partner, Peter.

With no clear idea of what her and her partner’s future holds, Debi is inspired to focus her restless energy on something productive - a victory garden. Having a manageable project to turn to helps her stay forward-looking and hopeful in the midst of a life-changing diagnosis.

I was provided with an electronic copy of #AVictoryGardenForTryingTimes by #NetGalley in return for my honest review.
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It's always difficult to review memoirs because it feels as though you are judging someone's life choices. It's even harder, I think, to review a memoir about grief because while we all experience it at some point, it is intensely personal.  Goodwin, however, has bridged a gap by chronicling how she coped with her husband's illness and death by planning a victory garden like those so common during WWII.  This is a beautifully written (and informative) book which is tough at times but never either turns away from or wallows in the situation.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  This might be helpful to others; I will carry some of her phrasing with me.
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I would like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book in advance.

 When I usually pick up a book, I typically try not to go on much besides the cover. But reading this, it gave me so much I didn’t know I needed. In July, I lost my absolute favorite cousin and he was very near and dear to me. So, a lot of lines in the book stuck with me. The book sent me through a series of emotions that I didn’t get a chance to feel with my best friend. The time to cry, the time to be angry at the medical system, etc. However, I would say the book prepared me in being a little better than okay. I suggested it to a couple of other friends who were also dealing with grief. They said they would check it out when it is released. I just wish I had my own little garden going to push more of my feelings into. But I will look into it.
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A heart wrenching open raw memoir ,a book of illness hope death.Her gardening planning for the next season   planting  life of plants coming alive as her husbands life is ending,#netgalley#dundrun
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I received this book from Dundurn Press in return for an honest review. I can imagine that living though a spouses diagnosis and health decline from cancer requires a lot of processing and time to absorb and reflect it all. I like the idea of expressing the experience and emotions through the changing seasons and the therapy of gardening. The book was slow at times and also hard to read at certain points. That, too, parallels the seasons. It is sad to experience another person’s grief when reading their story. I appreciate the honest and personal nature of this book and it was meaningful to me to read about how the author managed her grief as others did in another time in history.
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Thank you to Dundurn Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is a touching and poignant read, as the author looks back on the year before her husband's death and her efforts to cope, look forward, remain positive in the face of bad news and the Damocle's sword hanging over them. Sadly, after initially responding well to chemotherapy and surgery, her husband's health rapidly declines and the author allows us to see her grieve, and come to terms with her loss. Her memoir is a testament to her love for her husband, as well as her love for gardening. The pace is measured - some might say slow, but I really liked the orientation toward the seasons of the year and the corresponding garden activities, and I thought the garden in actual fact and as a metaphor, worked really well to remind us that life goes on, there will be blossoms and fruit in the future, even if the present is bleak.
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DNF @ 27% in

I don’t know what I did expect when I requested this book, possibly I am just drawn in general to books about grief. There is nothing majorly wrong about it, it just reads like a report looking back at everything she did starting from the cancer diagnosis of her husband with her interests occasionally mixed in between. I think it could have worked better for me as a diary or with a clearer structure. It just simply didn't click with me.
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Having a loved one diagnosed with stage three esophogeal cancer means a lot of things, not least of which is learning to become a caretaker for someone who is going to be very sick. And yet, at the beginning of A Victory Garden for Trying Times: A Memoir, author and journalist Debi Goodwin decides to take on another monumental task. At the same time that she is caring for her husband, Peter, Goodwin will also create a victory garden.

Appropriately enough, this memoir begins in November, with Goodwin planting garlic cloves to harvest next fall. She and her husband love eating fresh bruschetta, with tomatoes, garlic, and basil from their own garden. She worries about whether or not Peter will be around to eat this garlic. She also hopes that he will. After all, planting a garden is an act of hope. We put seeds and seedlings into the ground in the hope that they will grow and that we will be around to partake of the bounty. A victory garden is also an act of defiance, too. Goodwin points out that victory gardens were a way for people who weren’t soldiers to fight the enemy—at least according to the propaganda that was produced during the two world war wars.

Goodwin’s memoir takes us through one year in her life. We see Peter through several surgeries, his highs and a lot of lows. We also see Goodwin come to terms with her grief and depression as her husband’s health declines. Meanwhile, Goodwin’s victory garden has highs and lows. Some plants do well; others inexplicably wither. It’s a good metaphor for cancer in that, cancer has rules that we don’t always understand. We can do everything right (or mostly right) and still not be able to get rid of every invasive beetle or cancerous cell.

A Victory Garden for Trying Times is also a memoir of Goodwin’s love for her husband and partner, and her love for gardening. We get to know Goodwin so well that my heart ached for her. Because of some events in my own life (a cancer diagnosis, a sudden loss of a loved one), this book turned out to be a perfect read for me. The garden at the heart of this book, both as actual garden and as metaphor, reminded me that life goes on, as long as we do the little, constant, necessary tasks of taking care of ourselves. We might not feel like it now, in the middle of our grief, but someday there will be roses and fresh garlic again.
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A very good book, well written and poignant.
I'm a keen gardener and I'm always happy to read about gardens. This was a very good book and it made me think about gardens and life.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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I felt compelled to read A Victory Garden for Trying Times by Debi Goodwin in one day with several breaks for processing.  It is a lovely book full of happy and sad. It is about life and how we live it. 

As I read it, I was struck by how much the life of a garden mirrors our lives and the healing it provides our hearts and souls whilst also providing nutrients for our bodies.

We all grieve differently and separately but we all grieve. so often, we hear or feel that someone isn't grieving like they should. A Victory Garden for Trying Times can unite us while also allowing us to grieve in our own way.

#AvictoryGardenForTryingTimes #NetGalley
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