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Women's Fiction Review    

A Garden to Keep
By Jamie Langston Turner
Bethany House, 2001
Trade Paper $11.99 (415p)
ISBN: 0-7642-2154-X

Elizabeth Landis never dreamed how dramatically a modern poetry class could change her life.  Elizabeth, the wife of a composer, mother of two, and substitute teacher, seemingly has a successful life. Her daughter is launching a career as a lawyer and her son is a freshmen at the alma mater of his parents. Rather than downsizing their empty nest, Elizabeth and her husband, Ken, have bought a house big enough to accommodate all the in-laws and grandchildren they plan to have some day. Her husband's travel schedule allows he the leisure to play tennis, attend discussion groups, and garden. 

Describing herself as "overly polite," Elizabeth reluctantly decides to attend worship services at the request of the formerly worst-behaved and most oddly dressed student, at the school where she substitutes. There she encounters Margaret Tuttle, who she's noticed at her poetry class. Margaret is outspoken in her opinions and genuine in her love for the genre. After church, Margaret invites Elizabeth to join her family in their home for lunch. Since Ken is likely to be on the golf course for several more hours, Elizabeth joins the Tuttle family. Finding Margaret's example to be as rosey as her nickname, Elizabeth listens to her life story and her conversion.  Accepting the Bible Margaret's given her, Elizabeth senses a need for modifications in her life. 

When Ken calls misdials her cell phone number expecting to talk with "the other woman," Elizabeth realizes how many years they've been drifting apart and how much she's failed herself and her marriage. 

Filled with poetic allusions and introspective characters, A Garden to Keep is the story of one woman's willingness to learn to take risks. 

Jamie Langston Turner is the author of several novels, most recently, Some Wildflower in My Heart. She is currently professor of creative writing and poetry at Bob Jones University. Born in Mississippi, she and her husband live with their son in South Carolina. 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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