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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Stone Flower Garden


**** The Stone Flower Garden by Deborah Smith. Women's fiction.








Hmmmm. I have no idea why this book was in my TBR pile. As far as I can tell, the only thing I've read by Deborah Smith previously is the first two or three Mossy Creek anthologies, and I doubt I'd have bought a book based on that.

Darleen Union and Eli Wade meet as children when the town princess defends the dirt-poor newcomer from bullies. Darl's family owns the Hardigree marble company, which owns the town, and when Darl's grandmother, the matriarch, learns about the Wades, she gives Eli's father a job, and the family a house to live in. When Eli's mathematical genius becomes evident, she puts him to work, too, training him and offering him an education.

Darl and Eli become close friends, and as they grow up, the friendship shows signs of developing into something more. Then Darl's aunt Clara, the black sheep of the family, arrives and makes everyone nervous and upset until she's killed and Eli's father is blamed, and the family leaves town in disgrace.

Twenty-five years later, they're reunited when Eli's sister is determined to find out who really killed Clara, and to clear their father's name. In the process, a lot of secrets people have killed to keep are revealed.

This is a very intensely emotional story, and one that's quite easy to get caught up in. The deep friendships, and the heavy weight of secrets permeate the story from the beginning. The characters are wrenched with guilt and shame, torn by love, and tend to waver between tyranny an martyrdom.

Ultimately, it got to be a bit much for me. I enjoyed the story and the emotional ride up to a point, then I hit emotional overload, and I just wanted it to be over. I admit I have a low tolerance for emotional intensity, so YMMV.

I'll probably look for more Deborah Smith books, though--I like reading something intense and complex like this, just not all that frequently.

...more


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