About the book: (from the publisher) Eva Sutherland—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Mississippi, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries it caused, changed everything. Her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage. Bitsy became the homecoming queen and the perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.
At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona. Free from Bitsy’s vicious lies, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself. But at forty-five, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that led her here.
When her father calls insisting she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at her wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is drawn in to a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning how to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.
Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.
About the author: Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist whose work focuses on relationships, resilience, and faith. As a writer, speaker, TEDx presenter, and teacher, she aims to build empathy and connection while inspiring others to live their best life.
Julie served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and has received the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship as well as the Rivendell Writer’s Colony Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship.
A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP), Julie is a literacy advocate who previously served on the board of her local literacy council. Dedicated to helping children overcome social, academic, and communication challenges, Julie has filled various gaps when called to serve her local public school system as an SLP, a reading interventionist, an ELL tutor, and a special education sub.
Julie also spent six years operating her family’s sustainable farm where she tended organic crops while caring for a wide variety of furry and feathered friends. She is a certified naturalist who enjoys exploring this beautiful world. Additionally, she has operated a freelance writing business for almost twenty years.
Today, Julie writes fulltime from her home in Oxford, Mississippi. Perennials is her fourth novel.
Genre: Fiction/Christian/Women’s FictionLatest release from bestselling novelist Julie Cantrell. A story of family relationships and… Click To Tweet
My take: I’m always drawn to women’s fiction that explores family relationships, especially when tension among family members results in intriguing drama. Julie Cantrell’s latest novel certainly delivers that.
I liked that Lovey was older than your average female protagonist and that her issues were real-world ones plenty of women can relate to. And the prose lives up to Cantrell’s top-notch reputation as a bestselling novelist. I did find the structure of this story a bit confusing, though, as it shifted back and forth in time. Not always easy to follow. (A couple of times I had to back up a few pages to check if I’d missed something.)
All in all, Perennials is not like The Feathered Bone, Cantrell’s third novel and the first of hers that I’d read (and swallowed whole). This one didn’t carry the same emotional weight. While it certainly has plenty of relational friction, it didn’t rivet me in same way. While many readers prefer their fiction a little lighter, I like mine to have something more of an edge.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for providing me this book free of charge. All opinions are mine.
Buy it here.
After words: Have you read any of Julie Cantrell’s three other novels?