by Lisa Wingate
Book 1 in the Tending Roses series (2001)
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Author Lisa Wingate drew upon her relationship with her grandmother for inspiration in writing “Tending Roses”. Her sensitive and able crafting of language, character, and situation pierces through the turmoil and stress of everyday life, illuminating its message with almost painful intensity: “Maybe you should start wanting less.”
Wingate’s words resonate as readers are introduced to Kate Bowman, her architect husband Ben, and their infant son. Kate, on maternity leave from her high-profile Chicago job, has been given the unenviable task of convincing her increasingly frail and forgetful grandmother that she can no longer live alone on the Missouri farm that has been her home for almost half a century.
Kate and Ben are struggling to deal with mounting debts and medical bills as they strive to build a lifestyle, rather than a life. Frustrated by dealing with her stubborn, if well-meaning, grandmother, Kate finds solace and clarity in Grandma Rose’s handwritten journal. The simple stories of earlier, less complicated times renew Kate’s understanding of the truly important things in life. Through the journal, Kate discovers the essence of the remarkable Grandma Rose and is forced to reevaluate her priorities and those of her family.
Simply put, Wingate’s aim is to exhort readers to “stop and smell the roses.” The daily race to achieve and have more, more, more is clearly and all-too-accurately portrayed in these pages. I guarantee readers will stop to think of their own lives and where they are spending their energies. Let’s hope Lisa Wingate has other relatives as inspiring as Grandma Rose for future novels.