Cover Image: The Heirloom Garden

The Heirloom Garden

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Member Reviews

In this book we learn just how much impact two very different people can have on each other.  

There is Iris who was a very young WW2 war widow and Abby whose husband returned but has a severe case of PTSD.  He can't function and drinks too much.  These leads to him ignoring his young daughter.

Iris has been isolating herself and has built a wall both figuratively and literally.  She pours all her love into her garden.  She describes her feelings through her flowers.  Abby feels isolated because her husband is home but not really present.

Iris watches this young family struggle and starts letting the young girl into her garden and eventually her heart.  She yells at the Dad to sober up and step up because his daughter and wife needs him.  He starts to attend therapy and helps Iris and his daughter with the garden.  Abby does too once she gets home from work.

These four people help each other heal and we get to watch them bloom just as the flowers do.  Iris has let down her figurative wall and by the end of the book she lets down her literal wall and her neighbors get to see her beautiful garden for the first time in decades.   Abbie's family is whole again and Iris has the family she never knew she needed.
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We meet two women generations apart who have lost their husbands.

One has a husband who never came home from WWII, and one has a husband who came home but is lost to PTSD.

Iris loves her flowers and her family, but they are now gone including her daughter. 

Abby moves into the house next to Iris, has her husband and her daughter, and a job as an engineer since her husband can no longer work or function.

We follow the lives of both characters present day and past.

Gardeners will absolutely LOVE this book.  

The flower and gardening information is outstanding and described in such detail you can visualize it.  

I also enjoyed how flowers were compared to feelings and life events. 

Viola Shipman has given us another heartwarming book filled with positive thoughts and virtual hugs.

The writing is beautiful just like the uplifting story line. 

THE HEIRLOOM GARDEN has characters that will warm your heart once you get to know them.

The book was a bit difficult to follow for the first ten percent, but once you got going, it was as marvelous as always.  4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Iris has been self isolating for decades.
She was a young bride and a young widow.
She lost her husband in a war and she lost her daughter to polio.
She’s been alone with her garden for a very long time.
Gardening and flowers have always been important to Iris. She used to garden with her parents and grandparents as a child. She worked in a victory garden during the war. She even cultivated her own flowers and sold them.
But one day Iris decides to just shut herself inside. She builds a huge wall around her property.

She rents out the property next door, the new tenants aren’t supposed to talk to her. 
This doesn’t stop the little girl next door. Lily meets Iris through a hole in the fence one day. When Lily needs help one day, she goes to Iris.

Lily’s dad suffers from PTSD after his own time in the army. Iris feels bad for him but she knows that he needs to step up for his daughter. He’s drinking too much, sleeping too much, and his wife and daughter cannot depend on him at all.

Iris feels like she’s supposed to help this family. So she decides to let them into her life.

I enjoyed watching Iris get a second chance at life. My heart broke for her in the beginning when every moment of her life was dedicated to her plants. Her plants really are her family, her family’s stories and memories live in the plants. And everyone needs different things in life to be happy. Iris wasn’t miserable. She found a way to keep going after her loss, she created a beautiful little world around her. But she was still lonely. It was beautiful to see her open up and let others in.

This author’s books tend to make me think of my grandmother too. There’s nothing specific about Iris that reminds me of her. They are two totally different characters :) but I think the author always throws some grandmother vibes in their books and that warms my heart.

I got to read an early ebook edition from NetGalley. Thank you!
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The Heirloom Garden is the latest West Michigan lakeshore based novel by the author writing as Viola Shipman.  Once again, the reader is taken to the Lake Michigan coast, this time the setting is Grand Haven.  If you are familiar with the area, many familiar landmarks are mentioned.  If you aren’t familiar with the area, the author does a great job of describing a summer along Lake Michigan.  The story centers around two neighboring houses along the shore.  In one house lives Iris, a once famous botanist, who having lost her husband and daughter, now lives as a recluse.  I particularly enjoyed the passage in the book that described the process that Iris used to hybridize her daylilies.  Moving in next door is a young family. Abby is an engineer who works at a local paint company.  Cory is a veteran of the recently ended Gulf War, struggling with PTSD.  And Lily is their daughter, who is spending the summer at various camps in the area.  As the four get to know each other, then help one another through the struggles each is facing.  Each chapter is themed on a different Midwestern flower and plays an role in the story. 

I received an advanced reader copy of The Heirloom Garden via NetGalley. 

While women in today’s work force to face struggles, it was a little over the top in some of the situations that were portrayed at Abby’s workplace.  It was also a bit heavy handed in the politics of the Gulf War.  These detracted from the overall theme of the book, they just weren’t needed.
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*** I received an ARC of this novel via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ***
I absolutely love this book.  It is so well written and easy to connect with.  I loved the descriptions of Iris' gardens, heirloom flowers, and cottage on the lake.  It is a story of history, family, healing, and friendship between a little girl and an old woman.  I was presently surprised to find that this book takes place in Grand Haven, MI along the shore of Lake Michigan.  I have never read anything by this author and look forward to reading more of Viola Shipman's work.  I would most definitely recommend this novel to my fiends and family, and have actually suggested that our local library purchase it once it's a available.
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What a wonderful read, loved this one. Granted, you don’t have to know a lot about flowers to enjoy the heartfelt emotions this story evokes, but I can certainly say as quite an experienced gardener myself, it made this tale all the more enjoyable because I did. I knew all the flowers mentioned and loved the descriptions but diving into the history and meanings made this book all the more enjoyable. I could relate to how spring incites so much excitement when discovering the first blooms to emerge from the cold, ice and snow. 
I came to care for all the characters, the storyline was well laid out, and the writing was great. My only con was I found it rather unbelievable that one visit to the counselor would heal the wounds of PTSD so quickly. Otherwise this is a wonderful story. I recommend to anyone. 
I was allowed an ARC from Harlequin and NetGalley for my honest unbiased review. This one gets a high 5 stars.
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A brilliantly written story about hope, friendship and new beginnings. 

A new family has moved into the house next door to Iris Maynard, her parents’ old house.  She had no idea what was going on with the Peterson family until they become friends.  All Iris knew was they were a young couple with a little girl names Lily, a flower name just like her own.  Iris soon learns about Abby’s career and marriage struggles and learns Cory, the husband, is suffering from PTSD after serving in the Iraq war.  Iris lost her husband in WWII and her daughter shortly after.  She become a recluse after both losses.  But with the help of each other, Iris and Cory help each other come out of their shells and learn to live again.

I have read all of this author’s books and with each new one, I say it was the best.  This book falls right in line with that saying.  I was hooked from the very beginning.  The story took me on a journey through the characters lives, past and present, and taught me about flowers and gardening.  It also taught me to open my eyes and truly see what’s around me, not just what’s on the surface.  The story wrapped up with a ending that brought tears to my eyes.
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Despite the fact that I am no way an excellent gardener this story inspired me to get to know the plants in my yard. I'm pretty sure that wasn't a goal of the author, but here we are. Every chapter focuses on a flower and I loved that. It was such a unique way of framing both stories.
The two timelines are equally heart wrenching. Both 1944 and 2003 life presents challenges for our two main female characters. It's sort of a romance/ kind of like historical fiction and completely binge-able.
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I loved reading this warm, heartfelt story and watching as the friendship developed between Iris and Abby, both of whom have experienced hardship in their lives. Their difficult experiences at once endear them to the reader. Shipman's descriptions of the setting made me want to visit - and to try my hand at a flower garden! If at times the dialogue comes across as slightly artificial or overdone, the characters do seem genuine overall and I felt honored to spend this precious time with them.
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This book gripped me right from the beginning. The descriptions of the flowers for each season, the gardens, and the scents made me feel like I was living on Lake Michigan.  Right from the beginning of the book I was rooting for the Iris, Abby, Cory, and Lily to help each other overcome the past and become a "family". I especially liked the relationship between Iris and Lily! This is a wonderful story of love and support! I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to #netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy. I will be looking for more Viola Shipman books to read!
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Let me start off by saying that I'm not a gardener. I have a few indoor succulents that have lasted more than six months, which is a personal best for me. I tried a garden last spring and was delighted that anything came up, but it wasn't a success. That said, I really enjoyed The Heirloom Garden, particularly because of the love and care the characters put into their gardens, and the author's lovely descriptions of flowers.

Of course, this novel is more than floral descriptions. Iris is an elderly shut-in, still traumatized by the sudden deaths of her soldier husband and her young daughter. Abby is a mother and wife, with a husband suffering from PTSD after his time in Iraq. This novel is about trauma and war, grief and loss, found families, and hope. I loved the tender relationship between these characters, and the overall message.

I did stumble sometimes over the characters' conversations. Usually they flowed and felt very natural, but at times one or the other would get on a soapbox and begin lecturing in a very formal, very uncharacteristic manner. I found this happened especially when discussing gender inequality at the workplace. I'm all for discussions about this subject, but it felt more like a professor lecturing, rather than an organic conversation based on mutual experiences.

Other than that, I was hooked! And against my better judgement, I'm inspired to try a flower garden of my own in the spring.

Thank you to the publisher for an ARC.
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I am a huge fan of this author and this book did not disappoint     When I saw the opportunity to read and review I immediately moved it to the top of my TBR list. And I recommend you do the same !
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While we enjoyed a few days of mild weather at the end of February and I itched to get my hands dirty (an urge that generally passes by July) I had to console myself with the slow-paced delights of The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman (which, by the way, I discovered is a nom de pleume the same time I finished the book.)

While I am, self-admittedly, an emotional reader, this sweet and poignant story pulled each of my heartstrings. Shipman paints a vivid picture of glorious garden splendor, damaged souls, and the healing power of friendship. Scars of war effect a family and a neighbor as they come to grips with new normals and build foundations for a happier future.

Picturesque descriptions of plants, strong female leads, and a fantastic setting (hello, Great Lakes Michigan resort town!) will have you craving cottages and sand dunes and friends with old souls. The Heirloom Garden flips between eras and character perspective, providing a beautiful depiction of strength and hope through intergenerational storytelling and an emphasis on treasuring memories and heirlooms through love and loss.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary Advanced Readers Copy through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman
Book starts with authors praise from other works. 
Starts out with Iris and she has a victory garden as to so many during the war. It was the only way to get food, rest had to go to the soldier fighting the war.
There is so much you will walk away with after reading this book. Iris raised the victory garden for the town and needs to get over her anxiety and has no resting place for her spouse, Abby needs encouragement to be strong to do the things she needs to do,
Cory needs to get over his anxiety after returning from the war.
Parts that got to me where the monthly visits to the garden as I have so many of the same flowers-what a beautiful year of flowers. 
2000's
Abby married to Cory, back from the war live in MI and have Lily
Cory is damaged and she can't trust him to take care of girl. Abby works at paint for boat place.
Story goes back to 1940's
Iris and she lost her spouse Jonathan, then Mary to the war. She recalls her dad tending to vegetable garden while her mom tended to flowers.
She went to college for botany and knows all about flowers. She still makes Mary a cake and brings it to where the trillium grow to remind her of when she was born.
I have a handful of the ones mentioned in the book and can't imagine how stunning the garden would look if I had the same flowers growing.
Love the part about how the flowers tell a story as do mine, especially where they came from
Current date and we find Iris in her own cottage with high fence with her flowers and greenhouse. She also owns the house next door
where Cory and Abby and their little girl Iris live.
Like hearing how she hybridizes, love cross planting and how to use the nylons.
Ends with acknowledgements and discussion questions.
A book to treasure! A KEEPER!
Received this review copy from HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada)
Graydon House via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.
 #TheHeirloomGarden #NetGalley
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The Heirloom Garden is a very heartwarming story with so much going on.  
There is hope, love, sadness, loss, survival, PTSD and empowerment of woman.  The characters are real, likable and ones you want to have in your own life.
There is two time lines within the story....1944 with Iris, her husband and young daughter and 2003 with Abby, her husband and young daughter.  Iris rents a house to Abby which begins a heartfelt friendship no one expected.  They are drawn together through their love for flowers and love of family.
I shed more then a few tears reading this story.  So many relatable moments.
The Heirloom Garden will be a wonderful summer, beach read.  
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author, Viola Shipman, for the opportunity to read and give my honest review about this book.
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When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

In her inimitable style, Viola Shipman explores the unlikely relationship between two very different women brought together by the pain of war but bonded by hope, purpose…and flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family—a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbour’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.

With delightful illustrations and fascinating detail, Viola Shipman’s heartwarming story will charm readers while resonating with issues that are so relevant today.

I love a historical (Or semi-historical)  novel that lends itself to today's issues at hand. Whether it is shell shock, battle fatigue or PTSD, it is a common thread amongst veterans and their families. The disorder (I hate that word ... disease? Well, disease works for me as it is in every cell of the body...) is never easy to read about, but Miss Shipman does an incredible job with the issue at hand.  The characters are well fleshed out, the research is evident and the story, although hard to read at times (not the writing, what Abby's husband is going through) is stellar.  

If you love novels that will engross you from the first page, this is a perfect pick for you.   As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

P.S.  I need to say one thing, though .. I am SICK OF BOOKS THAT HAVE A WOMAN'S  BACK ON THEM AS THEY WALK OR LOOK INTO THE WAY AHEAD...GET MORE CREATIVE, PUBLISHERS!!!!!
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The Heirloom Garden is a touching story. One stems from WWII while the other is in 2003.  I liked all the flowers spoke about in the garden. Peonies and hydrangeas  are two of my favorites. The writing wa solid and fluid, there was a lot of character development. It's a good read
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The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman is another story that will touch your heart in several different ways! This author always writes stories that reach the very core of family, true feelings of love and overcoming the great disappointments in lives. The bitterness and loss of war always break the hearts of families across the world. In The Heirloom Garden, there are two women who are trying to survive the best way possible as they come to terms with the aftermath of how war has affected their family. Iris has suffered great losses, her young husband in WWII and her only daughter, Mary died with polio. Iris railed against the effects of war on humanity and was labeled a protester and a traitor. Iris walled herself away from the world and created her own reality in her magnificent gardens.
Abby is a young engineer with creative ideas, a young daughter, and a troubled husband home from Iraq. Life is hard and she does not know how to save her family and help her husband through the debilitating PTSD and his withdrawal from the public. To make her life even more disappointing, at work her formulas for a beautiful new paint has been reassigned to another employee. She knows she will never advance at this company, but the is the sole support for her family.
This story has so many beautiful scenes, of lives being transformed by the power of botany, patience, and the healing of souls and spirits. I loved this story and the characters!
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This is another fantastic book by Viola Shipman. I started it as soon as it showed up in my mailbox, even though I had a stack of books that should have been read first but this is one of my 'go to' authors and I had to read it right away. I am a huge fan of books about Michigan and books that take place on Lake Michigan always tug at my heart because of all the summers that I spent at the Lake growing up. This author describes the area around Lake Michigan so well and so beautifully that it is an integral part of the story - as important as the characters. I loved this book and think it will be one of the "must read" books of Spring, 2020.

The story is told in dual time lines and in different eras.

1944 - Iris lost her husband in WWII and her daughter not too long after that. Her grief caused her to put walls up around her house and around her heart. She doesn't have anything to do with the people in town, has her groceries and garden supplies delivered and is only really alive when she is spending time in her beloved gardens. In her gardens, she re-lives her memories of her grandmother, her mother, her husband and her daughter -- the garden becomes her only family.

2003 - Abby, her husband and their daughter, Lily, move from the Detroit area to Grand Haven for Abby to take a new job. They rent the house next door to Iris (which Iris still owns) but the high fences let them know that Iris has no desire for company or friendly neighbors. Abby is trying to handle everything - her husband has PTSD and is unable to contribute to the family either emotionally or monetarily. Instead he mostly sleeps, drinks and re-lives his memories of war. Lily tries to make the best of things but she is lonely and nervous about starting at a new school with no friends. The two families are slowly drawn together at first through their love for flowers and then through the friendship that they can both bring to each other.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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Have loved any book so far from this author and happy to say loved this one too. A touching story and heartwarming story.
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