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Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers' Favorite
Lorraine Haas writes about the struggles Margaret “Maggie” Rose Locke faces during World War II in her novel The Scent Of Gardenias: A Strong Woman Overcoming Circumstances Novel. Maggie wants to leave behind her childhood home and oppressive father. One afternoon, Maggie’s younger brother James had fallen onto a thresher. Learning that the doctor is not available, Maggie stitches the gash on his hand, then gets James to a doctor in the town. Dr. Albert fixes his broken leg and comments on Maggie’s stitching, telling her she would make an excellent nurse and offering her a job in his office. In the meantime, Maggie agrees to elope with Eugene before he is deployed. While he is gone, she learns she is pregnant but hears from her father that Eugene had died. After having Gennie, she marries Leland and gives birth to a second daughter, June. Leland demands a divorce because he was in love with someone else. Maggie enrolls in a nursing program in New York and vows she will provide her daughters with a better life.
I couldn’t put down The Scent of Gardenias. Lorraine Haas left out no details about Maggie’s teenage dreams to get away from her father. I cannot imagine living in a house with ten brothers and sisters. It appears to me that women had to marry and produce large families, preferably with sons. Maggie cannot grasp the concept that she was stepping out of her father’s prison into a different cage. I felt the same disappointment Maggie experienced when many employers refused to hire a woman with children. Can you imagine being a widow during the war and unable to support your family? I disliked Leland from the moment Maggie married him. He didn’t want Maggie to have anything besides a life similar to what she grew up in. To top this off, he had the audacity to cheat on her. I wouldn’t have taken that announcement as well as she did. The development of Maggie’s character is exceptional, and I could see how she grew as a person. This is a story about becoming self-sufficient despite facing adversity. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a strong female character living in a difficult era that is realistically portrayed.