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IN THE GARDEN OF STONE is one of the nicest reads I have had in a long time.  It is just full of the most wonderful details of nature, and my mind was able to bring me right to the path and let me integrate the experience like a refreshing walk;  a little vacation, which slowed my pace and refreshed my spirit.

I was experiencing a tremendous windstorm which was transitioning the chill of spring into the heat of summer when I sat down to read this saga about an Italian immigrant’s family working the coal mines and living in a company shanty town called WAR.  The first and second generations were living in the dark and could not see another way, and they condemned those that tried and then returned.  They seemed to hope for the same life that they were experiencing right down to the plain un-nourishing food they were eating.  When in 1924 a young railroad man discovers a miner’s daughter, age 16, who is capable of learning to dream.  They are wed and move away to build a house/home and a magnificent garden as the ones which were built in ancient Italy.  The man, who went to Italy and became a stone mason, has a dream and a good heart.

The son is the connecting bond to all the other stories of all the characters of this saga which carries the reader to 1973 and the expectation of a great-grandchild.  Each chapter focuses on a period of time and individuals which will make the story move forward.  The characters are so well developed as though they were the focal point of a short story, and then they disappear and reappear in the next stories/chapters to complete the picture.   The characters are so crucial to the evolution of this family saga and how they integrate finally into their new culture and society.  Many are still stuck in the old ways today, afraid to come out of the mines and we definitely understand how love and a “strong hand” can guide one up and out of the dark places individuals reside.

Susan Tekulve teaches writing at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina and her novel IN THE GARDEN OF STONE makes a fine contribution to Southern literature. Her writing style is gentle and deep; she is not afraid to expose the painful pivotal moments of life. I know I will read this book again.

You ‘all, I can just see you in the garden, with a cool drink in hand, and flowers on the air enjoying this book in the summer heat while wandering the hills of Virginia with the folks in this story.  Am I right or am I right?

tlc logo I received a proof copy of this book from TLC online book tours and HUB CITY Press. It is a lovely, lazy summer afternoon read and I am so pleased to have been given the opportunity to read this story.  It is the winner of the South Carolina First Novel Prize.  The publishers are offering a giveaway of IN THE GARDEN OF STONE to a commenter on this blog site or Facebook.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations Welcome.

Related Reading:   Under the Recommended Reading tab are many books I have reviewed and which you might also enjoy reading.
The Paper Garden
 Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
The Clover House
The Bequest of Big Daddy

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15 Responses to “IN THE GARDEN OF STONE ~Susan Tekulve”

  1. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea Says:

    This sounds like a wonderful story. Glad u enjoyed it.

    Patricia Reply:

    Diane, I lived several years in North Carolina and was a social worker for a number of these hill folks and immigrants from the mines…It was a beautiful read – I was right there

  2. Talon Says:

    I think you’re right, Patricia! :)

    Patricia Reply:

    Oh Talon you make me laugh! Thank you

  3. Alien Ghost Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    Sometimes is difficult to see and imagine how it must have been life in those times and specific situations, although even today we can see people living in similar ways in moder society.

    Alien Ghost recently posted..The Girl In My HeadMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    I think too that sometimes for immigrants that big first move is all the change they will make and they even become resistant to future change – passing that on to children. Refugees who were forced by war often are hard pressed to change again once they feel safe.

    This book was quite a different look at the south, a place I found extremely resistant to change and very beautiful. I was happy to move on, and yet, I enjoyed this story as a trip back

  4. Wendy Says:

    Really nice review of this novel. I also found the writing quite beautiful – and I liked the slow pace and gorgeous descriptions of place. I thought this book felt like an integration of linked short stories – which I really enjoyed.
    Wendy recently posted..In The Garden of Stone – Book Review and GiveawayMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    I so enjoyed this book and the pace – yes like linked short stories with easy descriptions.

    Welcome and thank you for your great words, will jump over and see what you thought about the book now

    A very good read

  5. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – With details of nature, like a refreshing walk, a little vacation, a slower pace, and refreshed spirit…how can a person possibly go wrong?!

    And I love that you commented on her writing style:
    “Her writing style is gentle and deep; she is not afraid to expose the painful pivotal moments of life.”

    Sounds like a must-read to me! THANK YOU!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Nary a Bat in My BelfryMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    This was a wonder full read. I could have said her writing was dreamy, but it was too focused…so feeling it like you are there was as close as I could come.

    Still have 2 more books on this intense reading/reviewing month to go and 3 reviews to write…but all of the books this round have been extremely good. I still hold to not reviewing books I do not care for – if I had any problem with this group of books was that it was too much about WAR….I was happy too that this book was only about a city named WAR!

  6. Susan Tekulve, author of In the Garden of Stone, on tour May/June 2013 | TLC Book Tours Says:

    […] Monday, May 13th:  Patricia’s Wisdom […]

  7. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    I love the idea of this book as a refreshing walk!

    Thanks for taking the time to read and review this book for the tour.

    patricia Reply:

    Thanks Heather J for coming by and seeing us all and reading our words on the tour.

    a lovely book for sure

  8. Patti Smith Says:

    “The son is the connecting bond to all the other stories of all the characters of this saga which carries the reader to 1973 and the expectation of a great-grandchild.”
    Ah, Dean…he was definitely the link that holds the story together…and it could be that since we got to know him so well for so long that there were times he made me so angry! I loved this book!
    Patti Smith recently posted..In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve – TLC Book ToursMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Patti Smith,
    Yes, I think the skill of the writer just pulled one into this story and yes Dean did make me angry…. Maybe that is one of the signs of a good read?

    You wrote a lovely review too – I enjoyed reading it