The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

June 5th, 2017 Kimberly Giveaway, Review 84 Comments

5th Jun
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
The Garden of Small Beginnings
by Abbi Waxman
Narrator: Emily Rankin
Length: 9 hours and 51 minutes
Genres: Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Goodreads
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Not since Good Grief has a book about a young widow been so poignant, funny, original, and utterly believable. A compelling debut novel about loss.
Give grief a chance . . .

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.

At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there's that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.

After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden feeling out of her element. But what she ll soon discover with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not "

2017 fave Beach Read Humor well written

THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS written by Abbi Waxman and narrated by Emily Rankin is a tale that will resonate with anyone who has ever loved, lost, raised a child, had siblings or simply tried to find their way in this thing we call life. Brilliant, heartwarming and filled with moments that will have you laughing aloud and shedding a tear.

After a hellacious week, an email recommendation from a trusted blogger recommending this novel peaked my interest.  I  downloaded it and then promptly devoured it. Best decision ever! Believe the hype, own the book or audio…it’s a keeper.

Breakfast Club meets the gardening club.  Waxman introduces us to Lilian Girvan, a young widow, and mother of two girls, five and seven years of age. It hasn’t been easy for Lilian, but she is finally at a place where she is handling things. Every day isn’t all sunshine and puppies, but she is trudging along.

In THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS, Lilian’s world is about to change. Lilian works as an illustrator and has been with the same company since she graduated. With dismal textbook sales, her company takes on another project involving garden books, and sign Lilian up to attending a garden class in preparation to drawing vegetables. With her sister and children along for support, she attends the first class. Over the summer they meet, and friendships blossom. More changes are coming as Lilian navigates life and Waxman takes us along in this touching, humorous tale that wraps itself around you. It is poignant, realistic and speaks to the reader.

Waxman shares parenting moments, friendship, mother and daughter dynamics, loss, love, new beginnings, sisterly love and so friggin much more. Lilian was very real, and the running commentary in her head frequently struck a cord. I found myself understanding her loss and relating it to my own losses. Her thoughts on parenting, waking up and just dealing with the life’s daily dose of crap were spot on. Don’t even get me started on her mother. The author captured their relationship perfectly.

We get a little side dish of romance, and threads on other relationships. It added depth and gave us a strong sense of Lilian’s world. I loved Saturdays with the gardening group and getting to know each of the characters. The writing is just brilliant. The author brought all of these characters to life. Think an adult version of the Breakfast Club. I felt as if I knew them and/or recognized someone I knew in them.

THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS is the type of story that uplifts you even as it tugs at your heartstrings. I still cannot believe this is a debut novel. Waxman writes characters and their complexities like a seasoned writer who has honed their skill.

Emily Rankin was the sole narrator, and she was the perfect choice for this tale. Hr voice became Lilian, and her voices for the other characters were wonderful. She handled accents, age, and personality delightfully. The pacing was perfect allowing me to listen for long lengths of time.

THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS is the perfect book to own and one you will want to gift. I hope that Waxman revisits these characters, but in the meantime, I will certainly be looking for her next novel.

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About Abbi Waxman

Abbi Waxman

Abbi Waxman was born in England in 1970, the oldest child of two copywriters who never should have been together in the first place. Once her father ran off to buy cigarettes and never came back, her mother began a highly successful career writing crime fiction. She encouraged Abbi and her sister Emily to read anything and everything they could pull down from the shelves, and they did. Naturally lazy and disinclined to dress up, Abbi went into advertising, working as a copywriter and then a creative director at various advertising agencies in London and New York. Clients ranged from big and traditional, (AT&T, Chase Manhattan Bank, IBM, American Express, Unilever, Mercedes-Benz) to big and morally corrupt (R. J. Reynolds) to big and larcenous (Enron). Eventually, she quit advertising, had three kids and started writing books, TV shows and screenplays, largely in order to get a moment’s peace.

Abbi lives in Los Angeles with her husband, three kids, three dogs, three cats, a gecko, two mice and six chickens. Every one of these additions made sense at the time, it’s only in retrospect that it seems foolhardy.

Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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84 Responses to “The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman”

  1. Trish

    This sounds like a lovely inspiring book, and i love that it’s funny too! Like Blodeudd above I have a US audible account, so I’m taking a chance and entering! Hope that’s ok.

  2. Nadene

    I heard great things about this one and I am glad you enjoyed it. I would love to read this one,

  3. Grace

    I loved this books so much. It touched on so many things, did it well and was so relatable. Plus it made me laugh a lot. Lovely review!

  4. Cindy

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. This book sounds wonderful and I am running to the library to check it out! Great review!

  5. Nick

    Can’t wait to read this one, Kim! It sounds like a funny, and heart-felt story that anyone can enjoy.

  6. Rosa

    i must confess I haven’t tried audio books yet. Since I usually spend very little time on my car, I still prefer to read books.

  7. blodeuedd

    Swwwwwwwwwwwweet.
    I was told by Heidi that I have to read this one. So I am intrigued cos everyone is loving it

  8. Laurel-Rain Snow

    This one sounds so good, and I’ve been eyeing it for a while. I will try to get the e-book, though, since I don’t do audio.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Vicki

    This book sounds perfect for me. I’ve loved, lost, raised a child, had siblings and am still trying to find my way after losing my husband in 2015.

  10. kindlemom1

    I’m still waiting for my copy of this! It better hurry and get here soon. I so want to read this over the summer.

  11. Angie

    This does sound like a great read! I had never heard of it. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Nicole

    Hey, Kim! Just thought I’d let you know that you accidentally called the book “The Garden of NEW Beginnings” throughout this post (instead of Small). I hate to point out errors, but that’s one I’d want to know about if it were my blog. 🙂

  13. Heidi

    I am so glad that you loved this one. I don’t often go out on a limb and recommend this to everyone, but I loved this so much. I bought a copy and sent it to a good friend who lost her husband back in 2014. I will definitley reread this soon on audio.

  14. Genesis

    Wow, this sounds like a really powerful story! I hadn’t heard of this before so I’m glad you reviewed it so I can check it out. I love when a book features a mother-daughter relationship as well as friendships. Heck, everything you mentioned! Great review, Kim!
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

  15. Debbie Haupt

    I’m glad you found some solace to your hellacious week and what better way than to immerse yourself in someone else’s trouble. I want it.
    Fingers, toes and eyeballs crossed for a winner!!
    thanks Kim
    Hope those weeks are getting better

  16. Rowena

    Ooh, this sounds like a lovely book. Adding it to my wish list. Thanks for the review, Kim! You always write such fantastic reviews.

  17. Melissa (Books and Things)

    *crosses fingers* I want to win this one. Everyone else stop entering… 😉

    I got the same message from that trusted blogger but I was too slow on the uptake to get it from NetGalley. My library has it but I want to try it on audio. I may have to bug the library to get it on audio. 😀 So glad you enjoyed it too!

  18. Suzanne

    I hadn’t heard of this book before but it sounds absolutely wonderful so thanks for putting it on my radar and thanks for hosting the giveaway 🙂

  19. holdenj

    Sounds like a well done debut. I do like a good cup of coffee everyday! Thanks for the chance to win!

  20. Kathryn

    I bought this after seeing a blogger review and will be reading it next as I bought the book. Was so happy to see your review, unfortunately not available in audio down under so won’t get to sample it that way.

      • Kathryn

        Not sure about that, I do actually sort of have a US account rather than the Australian one, but I think it comes down to world rights not being there for this book. There may be ways to get round it, but in the meantime I live with it!!

  21. Sophia Rose

    Okay, this does sound wow-worthy and it is definitely going on the pile. I like the gardening class setting and that she is finding herself and getting her mojo back. The group of friends at the class sounds great, too.

  22. Katherine

    It’s a toss up between Caramel Flavored Coffee with Sweet Italian Cream Creamer or Diet Coke. The coffee is the only way I willingly get out of bed in the morning but I don’t think I could survive without the Diet Coke.

    This book sounds really wonderful and just the perfect solace for a hellacious week.

  23. Dragonfly

    oh a FIVE stars! and this indeed sounds like the perfect summer read! Heartwarming and light! Especially if it is about mother and daughter dynamics! 🙂 In GR now!

  24. Melanie Simmons

    This sounds really cute. It isn’t my normal read, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Glad you loved this one. Thanks for the contest.

  25. Linda Townsend

    This audio sounds like an intriguing read. My fav caffeinated drink is green tea 🙂