Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers is excellently written, with big issues cleverly interwoven with the story. It had me laughing, crying and staying up until 2 am to finish it!
The main character is a lonely, arthritic old lady called Leota, who has a painful past full of sacrifices that are unknown and unappreciated by her neglectful family. Into Leota’s life comes arrogant sociology student Corban. He has to learn to see Leota as a fellow human person with thoughts and feelings, and to realise that sociological ideals cannot replace love and responsibility, care and friendship.
Anne-Lynn is a devoted follower of Jesus who cannot understand her mother Eleanore’s cold attitude towards Grandma Leota. Why does Eleanore believe herself to be unloved and abandoned by her obviously loving mother? What happened in the past to make Eleanore so embittered and emotionally insecure that she drains all the love out of every relationship she has? As Anne-Lynn gradually restores Grandma Leota’s garden to a riot of colour and life, so their relationship blossoms. At last Anne-Lynn learns her grandmother’s terrible secret brought home from Germany by her grandfather at the end of the Second World War, something so horrific that it completely changed Leota’s life.
What is Leota’s closely-guarded secret? Will she ever be reconciled to her precious daughter Eleonore?
Leota’s Garden is an excellent read and I can heartily recommend it.