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What do you do when your nine-year-old son s best friend is a seventy-year-old woman who s dying? Kate Keller is having a bad year: her husband has died, she s lost her home, her daughter barely speaks to her, and she s starting a new job working for a woman she can hardly stand but with whom her young son develops a curious and unexpected bond. Leaving Los Angeles for a small rural community in Washington State, Kate and her children expect their lives to change. What they don t expect is to find more drama in their new home than on a Los Angeles movie set. Kate s new boss has a terminal illness, a sly wit, and a garden that seems to attract characters like flowers draw bees - not to mention a dark secret from her past. Against the backdrop of Washington s wildly beautiful and unpredictable Skokomish River Valley, Kate and her family find that, when tended with loving care, the seemingly ordinary tragedies and comedies of everyday life can blossom into something extraordinarily special.
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Tami Dahlgren specializes in developing characters that readers form deep attachments to because they recognize them from their own lives. They might be your next-door neighbor, grandmother, or best friend - or just people you wish you knew. She turns the ordinary details of everyday life into a series of dramatic, comforting, and often funny moments that will have you laughing one minute and tearing up the next. A native of Olympia, Washington, Tami graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Spanaway, Washington and has worked as a teacher, editorial assistant, and public information officer. She wrote The Garden while working full-time. Tami lives in Olympia with her husband and two rescued shelter dogs. She enjoys spending time with her two children, as well as sailing, cross country skiing, kayaking, running, bicycling, cooking and, of course, gardening.Review:
Comforting 'Garden' works for winter By Barbara Lloyd McMichael: The Bookmonger I don't have cable TV, so I don t know what the programming on the Hallmark Channel is like. But reading Olympia writer Tami Dahlgren's book The Garden this week, I was reminded of those televised Hallmark specials, way back when conventional broadcast television was the only game around. With the plot Dahlgren has concocted, you ll get a similar mix of life-changing events, emotional journeys and sentimental symbolism. There are crusty old folks with hearts of gold, dewy-eyed youths with so much yet to learn, and the generation in the middle, making its way in spite of life s upheavals and disappointments. It is a serviceable formula and seems comforting somehow. The themes of continuity and hope are good ones for these dark winter days. The story goes like this: Kate, a nurse in southern California, has been widowed recently. Her husband had been drunk when he drove into another car, and he and two others were killed. To escape the gossip that has lingered after this tragedy, Kate moves her teen daughter Lindsay and 9-year-old son Jack away from southern California to a small rural community in Washington state. She s lined up a new job caring for a terminally ill cancer patient and hopes to make a new start. The patient, Evie Hastings, is a retired schoolteacher who is well-known throughout the community. She lives alone in a large house in the country and has no family to look after her. Evie s doctor, a former pupil of hers, has arranged for Kate to serve as her caregiver. At first, Evie doesn t need much help. She is accustomed to being self-sufficient as evidenced by her tidy house, well-stocked larder, and large garden. She has a domineering personality from years of teaching the old-school way, and she succeeds in bossing around Kate, her doctor, and just about everyone else. However, she and timid young Jack strike up an unlikely friendship over his math homework and her sugar cookies. Evie has a knack for getting to know everyone s business. Malice is not her motivation once the old woman pries information out of people, she unfailingly seeks to address the problems she uncovers. Even in waning health, Evie delights in serving as matchmaker, tutor, babysitter, college adviser, and more. Just as she has tended her garden so diligently through the years, so she looks after her community in her own inimitable manner. But it is only to Kate, the outsider, that Evie eventually confides her own dark secret. Dahlgren has incorporated a range of dramatic events into this story from car crashes and flooding rivers to school bullies and marauding deer. She s also created an entire neighborhood s worth of engaging and sympathetic characters. This makes for an involving read, although sometimes the author runs into trouble as she tries to juggle the perspectives of several different characters. Nonetheless, the story's message of carrying on in the face of adversity comes through loud and clear. --Barbara Lloyd McMichael, The Bookmonger column
Tami Dahlgren captures the beauty and complexity of human relationships to a T. It's the book you want to pick up when you need assurance that despite this world's sorrows and mayhem, the people we love, and sometimes total strangers, make it all worthwhile. Not just a chick book, my brother, who is not short on testosterone, found it a lovely and thought provoking read. This debut novel's character development is outstanding. --Amazon.com
Enjoyed this book. Our Book Club read it and all 9 members gave it a Loved It rating. Very true to life characters. Lovely depiction of community caring and friendship in a small Northwest town. We recommend it. --Goodreads.com
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Book Description Gull Harbor Press, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Never been used. Seller Inventory # ol12029
Book Description Gull Harbor Press, 2010. Condition: New. Gorham Printing (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M0615406149