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What to expect

Eva—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 that it caused, seemed to change everything … especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.

Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. 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—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.

In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning forty-five, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.

When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ fiftieth anniversary, Lovey is at 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 right back to the red dirt roads of Mississippi.

Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning 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.

Critics Review

  • “If Julie Cantrell isn’t on your reading list, she should be.”

    Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author
  • “Cantrell has penned another quietly contemplative, thought-provoking novel. Her prose is so meaningful that every phrase begs to be mulled over…This is a book that begs to be reread and discussed.”

    RT Book Reviews (4½ stars, Top Pick!)
  • “Cantrell has a great understanding of family quirks and the nuances of family dynamics…the textured portrayal of Eva will leave readers inspired.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “As Lovey examines her life and career, she revisits a landscape of feuds, errors, and exiles. For there to be a happy ending, this bleakness and doubt need to be blasted with something bright and exuberant. The metaphors of flowers and gardens offer that—imagery that is vibrant and brilliant and zestfully piled on…Ms. Cantrell has aimed
    for and attained a similar effect. She knows her way around romance novels, she
    knows her craft, and she has fashioned a novel that is both reliably romantic
    and wickedly over-the-top.”


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