I'm not sure I can say ENOUGH nice things about this book, but here goes.
Let me preface this by sharing that Denise Hildreth Jones is one of my all time favorite authors. I have read every book she has written. Some more than once (I can't get enough Savannah...I laugh out loud - even in the second and third readings....but I digress) and "The First Gardener" truly exceeded my expectations. It's true, I was prepared to like it, but really, I *loved* it.
We begin with the enviable and lovely life of the first family of the great state of Tennessee. They are beautiful inside and out, successful, in love, kind to others...the happy list goes on and on. They long for many children but have only one, their 5 year old daughter, Maddie. She is the light of their lives and a delight to all. Jeremiah Williams is the Head Gardener of the governor's mansion and has been tending the first families' gardens for 25 years. He has a special place in his heart for this entire family. When tragedy strikes and all of their lives are forever changed, he is an integral part of their healing.
The entire story is handled in ways that I found realistic without being hopeless; funny, yet never irreverent; and most importantly, it communicated biblical truths without being even a little trite - especially in the face of such major heartbreak. At the risk of sounding a little dramatic, The First Gardener actually changed my life.
I can't recommend it enough.
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