The Grandest Garden

Fiction - Womens
352 Pages
Reviewed on 11/21/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christine Nguyen for Readers' Favorite

The Grandest Garden by Gina L. Carroll is about a young woman named Bella Fontaine who goes out into the world. Bella is an ancient soul who is a part of the earth and the garden that she adores cultivating. Her childhood is filled with loving memories of spending time with both her grandmothers, Olivette and Miriam, in their distinct gardens in Los Angeles. Miriam moves into Olivette’s garden home as her memory starts failing her. The two women forge a bond that leaves Bella feeling excluded. Bella escapes to New York City to start her budding career as a photographer. In her new hometown, she meets Dorian and his mother who help showcase Bella’s artwork in their gallery.

Author Gina L. Carroll pens a beautifully written novel about family and the strong bonds that develop to make us who we are. The storyline is creatively woven with the magical essence of Mother Earth in each chapter. There is a sense of spirituality surrounding the characters and their beliefs that permeates throughout the novel. I loved the strong female characters from Bella to her two memorable grandmothers that play a central role in the plot and storyline. Dementia is a theme that was sensitively tackled by the author, highlighting that many people will experience this with their aging loved ones. The Grandest Garden is a captivating story that drew me in from the very beginning. It brought back nostalgic memories of my grandmother who also suffered from dementia in her later years.

Ronél Steyn

Gina L. Carrol offers us endearing women’s fiction in The Grandest Garden. Bella Fontaine has moved to New York from California to pursue a career in photography. It’s an unfamiliar city that she has to navigate, but with so much to offer. Her new start seems to have more than a few bumps in the road. Through new contacts, Bella cultivates a few different relationships that further lead her on a new path in life. Learning about gardening from her two grandmothers at an early age, Bella tries to find her new home away from home and create her own kind of special place. Moving between the two major points of change in Bella’s life, we discover what the underlying factors were that steered her toward the path she finds herself on now.

Author Gina L. Carrol has created a piece of heaven in this novel. With a good foundation and fertile soil, the characters are easily relatable and very likable. The two major points in our protagonist’s life also warrant two different narratives. Character growth is evident and happens progressively. All of the senses are stimulated with emphasis placed on the various plants and flowers. I love that this book is filled with some good gardening tips as well. I happily recommend this novel to young adult readers as well as the more mature audience. The various relationships the lead character has are diverse and colorful. Gina L Carrol has truly crafted The Grandest Garden in this warm and inspiring novel.

K.C. Finn

The Grandest Garden is a work of fiction penned by author Gina L. Carroll in the women’s fiction, interpersonal drama, and coming-of-age subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and mature teens. Readers are introduced to Bella Fontaine, a young woman navigating the complexities of life in New York City after leaving Los Angeles. Fresh out of college and armed with the winnings from a photography competition, Bella faces the challenge of building a new life while confronting the trauma of her past. The narrative weaves between two pivotal moments in Bella's life—her young adult journey in New York and her childhood as a budding gardener under the care of her grandmothers, Olivette and Miriam.

Author Gina L. Carroll delves into Bella's struggle for success, healing, and connection, making her journey relatable and compelling at every turn with a keen sense of emotional and psychological exploration. The breaking down of family dynamics, the refuge of gardening, and the bonds that shape us provide a huge scope for this exploration and exposition, and Carroll has a real talent for finding the most poignant examples to highlight Bella’s feelings without ever spoon-feeding them to us. The novel’s speech and thought presentation is precise and poignant, perfectly capturing the nuances of coming-of-age and emphasizing the resilience needed when familial ties fracture. What results is a gorgeously described, atmospheric work with a poignant exploration of love, loss, and the surprising power of strength found in unexpected places. Overall, reading The Grandest Garden was an emotionally resonant experience that I’ll not forget in a hurry. I would certainly recommend this enigmatic and highly accomplished novel to anyone who enjoys intricate literary dramas focused on bonds between women, family, and survival.