I've never really had the urge to write a book review before - well, actually I have - but never strong enough to bother doing anything about it! However, having recently got my hands on 'Plant Whatever Brings You Joy- Blessed Wisdom From The Garden' by Kathryn Hall, who many of you will already know from her blog at (funnily enough!) http://plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com/, I decided that this was a book that needed sharing with the world - so here I go....but please bear in mind that this is solely my take on the book and other people will have their own thoughts on it :)
I loved it!
It is ostensibly a book about Kathryn's life, her multiple house moves, her life in different countries and in different part of America, her beloved daughter and her many gardens - yet it is so much more than this and touches the heart (my heart anyway) because of it.
The book is divided into 52 chapters, some very short at just a page and a half, some longer lasting at several pages but all having very temping titles such as 'Never underestimate the power of one tiny seed', ' Aim for beauty', 'Never pull up and discard what you cannot identify', 'Appreciate small returns', ' Cultivate plants which attract lovely company', 'Clean up after a storm' and - my favourite title, 'Move gently among bees'. The titles intrigued me and pulled me in.
As the autumn night closed in and I had the house to myself for once my plan was to settle down in front of the fire, a glass of fine red wine at my side, and indulge myself in Kathryn's book - I intended to read it from cover to cover that evening and, at 228 pages, it was an achieveable goal. However, because this is no ordinary book it didn't turn out that way!
Kathryn's memories and experiences are rich and fascinating. They helped me to further understand the Kathryn I think I've got to know through her blog and our email correspondence, but they also deliver clever but gentle metaphors for self discovery and learning - both hers and her readers.
She has a canny nack of making her last sentence in the chapter either a statement or a question, both of which seemed designed to make me go "oh, what? yeah! I do that!", " Ooops, perhaps I could have done that differently?" or "Hmmm, maybe I ought......!", but always making me stop and think. Hence the reason I couldn't read the book all in one sitting, no matter how much I wanted to, as I just had to have some thinking time. Not all the chapters made me ponder for hours, but some certainly did and I feel better and stronger for having done so.
She writes in such a way that I found myself smiling, nodding and even, on more than one occasion, my eyes filling with unshed tears - from both pleasure and sadness previously held in. Memories of people, places and events long forgotten or sometimes supressed came unbidden into my head as I read.
I think that if I have one minor niggle with the book, it's Kathryn's use of the phrases 'Dear ones' and 'Dear readers' - but I am aware that this is my issue as reading these phrases whipped me straight back to my slightly stroppy teenage years and exams! (stroppy? Moi?!) The Bronte sisters and similar writers all used those phrases and, as part of English Language and English Literature lessons and exams, we had to dissect their books to the Nth degree - thus ridding them of any pleasure for years ...as proved by my response!
That aside, this is a thought provoking book that stands repeated readings - and I will certainly be dipping back into it on a regular basis. Her motto for her book publishing company is 'Changing the world one book at a time' and she has certainly done that for me with this book!
I shall leave you with Kathryn's final thoughts in the book ...and, no, it's not going to spoil the ending for you! ;
'Each and every adventure I have chosen, dear readers, held within it the power to expand, to teach. The more I risked, the wider and more diversely I chose, the richer my experience and the more precious the gift. I have been so blessed. Aren't we all?'
Bliss in a book!