Title: Winter Bloom
Author: Tara Heavey
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Eva Madigan is struggling just to keep going every day. She is doing her best to raise her son, Liam, but feels lost inside. Walking around Dublin one day, she sees a walled garden that is overgrown, but with some love and care, could be simply beautiful. She asks the owner, forbidding and unwelcoming Mrs. Prendergast, if she can fix up the garden. Mrs. Prendergast agrees, and Eva recruits a few people to work with her, each of them with their own ghosts to face.
Winter Bloom centers around the idea that gardening can be a source of healing for many different ailments of the soul. Working with something living, bringing back something that was once dull and lifeless and making it vibrant and beautiful - it leaves a mark for everyone to see. Each person who works on the garden has things in their past they are trying to recover from emotionally, and the garden helps them do so. It’s not magic or anything like that; instead, working on the garden helps them face their problems, usually by giving them someone to confide in.
The cover of Winter Bloom is a bit deceiving. It makes the reader think they are picking up a light, fluffy novel that won’t require much thought. Indeed, this book isn’t heavy or difficult to read, but it does deal with some very hard subjects. From the Holocaust to unwanted pregnancies, each of these characters has seen difficult times. The beauty of the book is how they work through and face these challenges, and grow because of their efforts. It’s also wonderful to see these disparate people come to rely on one another, simply because they worked on the garden together.
Though Eva is the main character, each of the major personas in the novel is explored and developed. We get to see things from each person’s point of view in order to understand where they are coming from. Heavey did a wonderful job developing all these characters and making them sympathetic. Readers will race through this novel, anxious to discover what will happen next and ensure that these people will be okay.
Winter Bloom is a sweet, thoughtful book. It’s very simple, focusing on characters rather than twists and turns in the plot, but beautifully done. Fans of women’s fiction and character driven books will want to pick this one up.