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THE FORBIDDEN GARDEN: A Novel ~Ellen Herrick

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Ellen Herrick, the author of THE SPARROW SISTERS has written another delightful tale, which is as lovely a read as a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.  THE FORBIDDEN GARDEN is filled with beautiful descriptions that include character’s thoughts as well as the magnificence of flowers, insects, birds and trees.   The English word expressions brought me right to home and I could relate to the things my Mother and Grandmother used to say. A cozy read.

Sorrel Sparrow, the garden whisperer, has been invited to England to restore a walled Shakespearean Garden that the estate owners believe to have been cursed by the darkness of a 16th Century ancestor.  As the young woman feels the hurt and toxic vibrations of the garden she presses the family to look further and reveal the tapestries, which spell out the dark enchantments and free the current family to find a new future and release the old expectations.

THE FORBIDDEN GARDEN does bloom again and love grows.

How are we each held captive by family expectations and ancient history?  How is history freed and the door opened to new options?  What change is rendered when family secrets are exposed to sunlight and new life takes root?

Reminds me of Brunonia Barry’s THE FIFTH PETAL.  A very good read – THE FORBIDDEN GARDEN

“Ellen Herrick was a publishing professional in New York City.  After nearly 20 years in London, Ellen now divides her time between her gardens in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a small Cape Cod town.” (Book cover)

Ellen Herrick Website
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Ellen Herrick TLC Book Tours

The Fifth Petal
Sisters One Two Three
Whistling Women


Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

“Victoria Fish casts a spell so subtle and sure it could only be the work of a master storyteller.  It is this talented writer’s special gift to be able to unmask everyday reality to its essence and surprise us with the familiar.  In rendering the struggles of ordinary people – suburban moms and military vets and disdained little sisters – she illuminated the stuff that makes us human.”  Sara Tucker (from cover)

A BRIEF MOMENT OF WEIGHTLESSNESS is a gathering of short stories which expose events in ordinary lives which are profound relationship reveals.  The writing is full of momentary details that make the location alive and the communications vital and often exquisite in the compactness of their expression. I read each of the 11 stories twice in a row and I highlighted 29 quotes which touched me deeply.  I was not awake all night trying to find resolution because these stories are complete; they are just about a snapshot moment.

I am giving this book to four people for birthday gifts in October and November because it is the nicest group of well – written words I can expect to share as we retreat into our winter mode with gentle prose.

Chapter Titles:

  • Where Do You Find a Turtle with No Legs?
  • The Sari
  • Green Line
  • Unleashed
  • What Is the Color Blue?
  • Sanctuary Therapy
  • The Last and Kindest Thing
  • Phantom Pain
  • The Voice at the End of the Line
  • Between the Dream and Here

“She remembers putting four rolls of Wintergreen Lifesavers in her pocket and quietly climbing up the stairs and over the green shag carpeting to the kids’ bathroom when she was not much older than he.  She’d heard that they sparkled fluorescently if you chewed them with your mouth open in the dark.  In the bathroom, she turned out the light and pulled the curtains her mother made against the late summer light.  How wonderful it would be to see lights and sparkles coming out of her.  She’d stood in front of the mirror in the pitch dark and did it over and over until her mother called her for dinner.” (Page 59)

TLC Book Tours  and Mayapple Press  sent me a copy of this delightful book to review.  It was pure pleasure.  A BRIEF MOMENT OF WEIGHTLESSNESS.

Victoria Fish writes many short stories which have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Hunger Mountain, Slow Trains, Wild River Review, and Literary Mama. She is currently working on a Master of Social Work degree. She lives with her husband and three boys in the hills of Vermont.  A BRIEF MOMENT OF WEIGHTLESSNESS is her first book and it is sublime.


“Going to the hospital reminds me of flying: if you dress up, you have a better chance of being bumped to first class.  You get more respect.”  (Page 83)

Incendiary Girls
The Sense of Touch
Our Love Could Light the World
The Moon Sisters

A COMPLICATED MARRIAGE: My Life With Clement Greenberg ~Janice Van Horne

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

A Complicated Marriage:  My Life With Clement Greenberg is a memoir written by Janice Van Horne starting with her at age 21 and just graduating from Bennington College and moving into her first apartment in New York City.  The book opens at a swish party describing Van Horne, surroundings and the guests.   This is the moment when she meets Clement Greenberg, the now famous art critic.  It is the start of the era of  Modern Art and this body of work.  Most of the artists are still at the “starving” artist’s stage but those on Greenberg’s friends list are going to be the top of the line big names and money makers of this particular period of time.

One is going to glimpse into the lives of some of these artists but that is actually part two of the book.  The first part of the book is about how Greenberg, the much older man, and Van Horne  get married and then spend weekends with all these artists at the artist’s homes.  7 major players get their own chapters including Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Greenberg is good friends with these two people the connection is examined.  The Greenberg’s have a rather large collection of the paintings and sculptures of the artists, which some people said were bribes for great reviews by Greenberg. The book is not actually a biography of Greenberg; I do think art history majors would enjoy parts of this book about his personal life and friendships because it offers a different perspective.

One of the primary currents of the story is how a young girl with no plans, no great ambitions, and an open marriage learns to define herself and find a life purpose.  She is not much of a cook, they do not have a regular income, and she is not a caregiver/traditional woman.  Actually she is a German heritage child, who has been abandoned by alcoholism and departure by the men in her early life, who has a rather “airy” beautiful mother, and extended family which attacks and loudly distances themselves from her for marrying a Jew raised in the Southern United States.  She has married someone who actually loves her and is willing to care for her, likes her brashness, and insists that she handle the money in their lives.

She notes often that there are artist’s wives who handle their partner’s businesses and estates well, and there are those which fall down on the job and let other’s steal from the artist.  This management turns out to be her strong talent and in hindsight her real career and gives her the opportunity to pay for analysis, acting classes and be in the theater, an editor of Madison Avenue magazine, a play write, and finally the person who establishes the collection of her spouse and his papers are prepared for becoming a part of a historic era and a library.

I could really identify with Van Horne’s journey to her authentic self and when through a terrible Ponzi scheme she and her daughter lost nearly all their funds and future, I was happy she was able to testify in court and get some satisfaction along with her credit rating restored including an opportunity to move forward.  After years of affairs, divorce and remarriage, she finally understood the kind of caregiver she could become and took charge of that role as Greenberg was dying.  I believe she must be near 80 as she is writing her volume, and she is still very much in control, but less tense and insecure as a person.

A COMPLICATED MARRIAGE was a good read and I am positive those who like to figure out what is going on behind the scenes and the gossipy side of life will love this book.   I got a bit tired of the New York, power trippy, snobby analysis of other people and how they lived their lives. It was shallow reading and name dropping.  I really could not connect with her perception of poor/poverty that she experienced.  Yes, I suppose having to make curtains, purchase clothing from SEARS, and going to all the correct schools through Bennington College (the most expensive college in the nation) on scholarship was hard to deal with in her context of wealth and entitlement; and yet, there was always money for cars, education, society and lots and lots of alcohol – not to mention art and trips to Europe as the lecturer’s bored wife.

If you like memoir and learning about the art scene of the 50s and 60s, A COMPLICATED MARRIAGE is a read you will enjoy.

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

tlclogoI was provided with a proof copy of this book by TLC online book tours and Counterpoint Publishing.

Related Reading:  Under the top tab Recommended Reading you might also find more books you wish to read and enjoy.

On Reading Memoir
Confessions of Joan The Tall
When Women Were Birds

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