The Garden Lady by Susan Dworkin was certainly a quirky reading pick for me. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy at no charge for my honest review.
About The Garden Lady:
THE GARDEN LADY by Susan Dworkin is a novel about unexpected love, the silence that becomes complicity, and the magic of redemption. Urgent and compelling, the story resonates with today’s headlines as it poses the ethical question: How do we live with what we know but choose not to think about or act upon?
Maxie Dash, the heroine of THE GARDEN LADY, is a famous beauty, a fashion icon, the face of many national TV ads. Her first husband, a world-class photographer, took nude pictures of her, which are so beautiful that they now hang in museums.
On the cusp of her 50s, Maxie decides to make one more marriage, something permanent and restful, to a rich man who will guarantee her an affluent life and future security. Amazingly she finds the perfect man. Even more amazingly, she grows to love him. Albert shares Maxie’s passion for the opera and willingly supports her favorite charities. He indulges her delight in public gardens and allows her to endow the community with their beauty. All he asks in return is that she give him her love and her unswerving loyalty and agree to know nothing — absolutely nothing — about his business.
Maxie is sustained by her best friend, the designer Ceecee Rodriguez, whom she treasures as a sister. But she is shaken by the persistent enmity of Sam Euphemia, a fierce young business executive, who suspects Albert of terrible crimes.
Add Maxie Dash to the list of great heroines of contemporary fiction. Smart, funny, enjoying every moment of her hard-won success, she ultimately faces the truth about her life, moves past denial and realizes that “her loyalty was a side effect of her greed and her greed was a crime against nature and her silence, her willful, terror-stricken silence, the true disaster.” Her attempt to turn Garbage Mountain, a New Jersey landfill, into a beautiful park is key to her redemption.
THE GARDEN LADY reads like a thriller or a binge-worthy Netflix series. Entertaining and provocative, it is packed with ethical questions, dark humor and insight and offers us a female protagonist you will never forget.
About the Author:
SUSAN DWORKIN wrote the New York Times bestseller The Nazi Officer’s Wife, a tale of love and terror in the Third Reich, with the woman who lived the story, the late Edith Hahn Beer Other books include Making Tootsie, the inside story of the great film comedy with Dustin Hoffman and Sydney Pollack; The Viking in the Wheat Field about the eminent seed banker, Dr. Bent Skovmand; Miss America, 1945, Bess Myerson’s story; Stolen Goods, a novel of love and larceny in the 80s; and The Commons, about an agrarian revolt led by a pop star and set in the not-so-distant future. Susan was a long-time contributing editor to Ms. Magazine. Her plays are often performed in regional theatres. She lives in Massachusetts.
Find out more about Susan at her website.
The Garden Lady is not a long book – it is 220 pages – but the author packs a lot in so it’s a fast paced read. Maxie Dash has decided that she will marry again, but he is going to be someone rich so that when/if he dies she will be set for life. She finds her man but her desire for a comfortable life perhaps overrides her good sense. She marries Albert but he and his money come with a lot of conditions; the most important being that she never ask about his business. She is so desirous of an easy life that she agrees to everything he demands, even when it causes her discomfort.
As I noted there is a lot going on in this book; Maxie’s abusive childhood is explored. She survived thanks to her best friend CeeCee. They remain close and CeeCee is involved in another subplot involving a shipping company whose executive is investigation Maxie’s husband for selling faulty plane parts. There are suspicious guests at dinner parties, there are strange orchids, there are murders. There is botany and memorial gardens. It’s a diverse book full of many subplots.
It’s hard to truly describe the book. It reads very quickly and in some ways it’s light and breeze and in others it’s heavy and hidden. I read it in one sitting and the ending was a wowzer. Not all questions are answered or I missed something. It does make for a fascinating read.