Thursday, August 25, 2011

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones


I first discovered Denise Hildreth Jones several years ago when I purchased a three-in-one collection of fiction books on a sale rack at a Christian book store. The three books were by three new (ish) authors, and I absolutely loved every one of them. Since then I've read several other novels by Denise and have yet to be disappointed.


The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones is absolutely fantastic! I literally did not put the book down for the two days it took me to read it. Mackenzie and Gray London have a great life. With Gray serving as the governor of Tennessee, Mackenzie devotes her time to their five-year-old daughter and charity work. They are surrounded by wonderful family and friends - Mackenzie's mother, trusted friends, and a wise gardener. When tragedy strikes, they all must pull together in order to survive.

This is one of the most powerful and moving stories I have ever read. The writing style is unique - with the story told alternately by Mackenzie and Jeremiah (the gardener). Such distinct styles but equally well-done. Denise has an incredible ability to make readers feel every emotion of every character. (Grab a box of tissue!) The ups and downs are dramatic . . . but she writes with hope and passion. I think that's what moved me the most - the way the story pointed to hope in Christ more than just a quick happy ending.

I give The First Gardener 5 stars and a permanent place on my bookshelf. You have to read this book!

* Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth Jones (e-book) is free until August 27!

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House as part of the Summer Reading Program.

About the Book
Jeremiah Williams has been tending the gardens of the Tennessee governor’s mansion for over twenty-five years. And like most first families who have come and gone, this one has stolen his heart.

Mackenzie and her husband, Governor Gray London, have struggled for ten years to have a child and are now enjoying a sweet season of life—anticipating the coming reelection and sending their precious daughter, Maddie, off to kindergarten—when a tragedy tears their world apart. As the entire state mourns, Mackenzie falls into a grief that threatens to swallow her whole.

Though his heart is also broken, Jeremiah realizes that his gift of gardening is about far more than pulling weeds and planting flowers. It’s about tending hearts as well. As he uses the tools that have been placed in his hands, he gently begins to cultivate the hard soil of Mackenzie’s heart, hoping to help her realize what it took him years to discover.

A Southern tale of loss, love, and living, The First Gardner reminds us that all of life is a gift, but our heart is the most valuable gift of all.

About the Author
Denise Hildreth Jones has spent the last six years writing fiction that has been hailed as both "smart and witty." Her ability to express the heart of the Southern voice has led to her being featured twice in Southern Living and receiving the accolades of readers and reviewers alike, but it is the simple joy of writing stories that keeps them coming. Her previous books include the Savannah series, Flies on the Butter, The Will of Wisteria, Hurricanes in Paradise, The First Gardener, and Flying Solo.

Denise makes her home in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband, five bonus children, and two dogs. And on her days off, she will settle for a long walk or a good book and a Coca-Cola.

Visit Denise's website at www.denisehildrethjones.com.

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