Author: Denise Hildreth Jones
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
Genre: Christian fiction
Source: Tyndale Press gave me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
"If heaven had a backyard, it would look like the gardens of the Tennessee governor's mansion.
Jeremiah Williams has been tending those gardens 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, are enjoying a sweet season of life 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. So he gently begins to cultivate the hard soil of Mackenzie's heart, hoping to show her what it took him decades to discover.
A Southern tale of loss, love, and living, The First Gardener reminds us that all of life is a gift, but our heart is the most valuable gift of all."
Inspirational, emotional and memorable...these are but three words that capture the essence of the story of The First Gardener. Denise Hildreth Jones has written this beautiful fictional tale of the south featuring Governor Gray London, his wife Mackenzie, their gardener, Jeremiah, and a wonderful true to life supporting cast. The First Gardener is a tale of love and loss, despair, hope and joy, and several good dashes of humour, with development of character in the finest of details incredibly true to life.
Mackenzie and Gray have it all. Gray is the state governor and they reside in the governor's mansion. They and their daughter Maddie comprise their loving family. Then one day a tragic accident changes everything. The resulting sorrow overshadows this family, permeating the very pages of this novel.
Jeremiah, the gardener of the Governor's mansion, feels the pain distinctly. While Gray deals with his grief by throwing himself into his work, the distance between him and his wife becomes an ever widening chasm as Mackenzie's depression deepens. Jeremiah realizes that for this family to heal he must somehow touch Mackenzie's heart and is inspired to do so through his talent of gardening, giving her gifts of flowers. Some days these floral gifts are ignored, but Eugenia, Mackenzie's mother, understands very well the meaning each flower holds and is wary of Jeremiah's intentions. Eugenia is the backbone that keeps the household running, Gray is strong and steady, and Jeremiah is wise. Together they unite out of their grief and love to help heal Mackenzie's heart, and thus heal a family.
Tissues are highly recommended as this story of The First Gardener will touch your heart and soul as you share the grief of this couple, the family and a state.
A Christian novel, The First Gardener reveals through the faith of the humble gardener Jeremiah how one's faith in God will help heal even the most unsurmountable grief.
Rated 5/5 for an exceptional though tear jerking read that I will definitely re-read someday.