November 10, 2010

Book Review: "The Naked Gardener" by LB Gschwandtner

Book Description:  In a remote forest of northern Vermont, Katelyn Cross takes five women on a wilderness canoe trip where they hope to come up with ideas for saving their dying town. Although the river is not always what it seems and the women have not left their problems behind, a painting ritual creates a new way to look at the world - and themselves. Artist Katelyn Cross loves Greg Mazur and he loves her. He wants to be married but a previous relationship that went sour has made Katelyn overly cautious about any permanent commitment. And what about Greg's first wife? He lost her to cancer and Katelyn worries that he's only looking for a replacement. What's a girl to do? Canoe down a river with five gal pals, camp out, catch fish, talk about life and men. The problem is, a river can be as unpredictable as any relationship and just as hard to manage. On their last day, when the river turns wild, the women face the challenge of a lifetime and find that staying alive means saving themselves first while being open to help from a most unlikely source. As Katelyn navigates the raging water, she learns how to overcome her fear of change in a world where nothing stays the same. When Katelyn returns to her garden, she'll face one more obstacle and the naked gardener will meet the real Greg Mazur. What readers are saying about The Naked Gardener: Lyrical ... Scandalous ... Empowering ... Exhilarating ... Honest ... Sensual ... Fun ... Gentle ... Pleasurable ... Transporting ... Timeless In her first novel, award winning writer L B Gschwandtner explores the push and pull of love, a woman's need to maintain her individuality within marriage, and the bonds that can make women stronger even when the world feels as if it's breaking apart. (from Amazon)

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Article first published as Book Review: The Naked Gardener by LB Gschwandtner on Blogcritics.

The Naked Gardener by LB Gschwandtner is like a slow, sweet dance; nothing showy or fancy and not a lot of explosions but with a stable steady progression into women’s friendships.

Main character Katelyn is the naked gardener of the title. That would certainly make her interesting enough - - honestly, have you ever met a naked gardener or tried naked gardening? I haven’t but I found the premise stirred my interest. Katelyn not only gardens naked but she lives with her boyfriend in a renovated chicken coop on a farm in Vermont during the summers. It’s Katelyn, surprisingly, who is wary of marriage and seemingly happy with the status quo of co-habitating.

I found the pace of the book to be as leisurely as a Sunday afternoon down south. So much so that I had to remind myself during the course of the book that it takes place in Vermont and not south of Virginia. For that reason, The Naked Gardener may not be for every reader. If you are looking for a book chock full of action, explosions and/or supernatural events, The Naked Gardener is definitely not for you. Rather than the excitement-a-minute found on each page, The Naked Gardener is a study in characters and the diversity found in relationships.

For me, the relationships between Katelyn and the five ladies who accompany her on a canoeing trip is the best part (and majority) of the book. Each woman is individually distinct and brings an engaging aspect to the overall plot. It’s rare that it’s the supporting characters that bring so much shine to a novel but it so happens in this case. In fact, I enjoyed Erica, Hope, Charlene, Roz and Valerie so much that I hope Ms. Gschwandtner writes a follow up to The Naked Gardener focusing on the exploits of these ladies, either separately or together. Each of them has a worthy story that would make for an excellent follow up.

I did wish, however, that there was a bit more development for Katelyn’s boyfriend Maze who felt a bit lacking to me. We did get some background on his previous relationship but he was very much a secondary character to Katelyn and her coterie of friends.

Overall, though, I thought The Naked Gardener was a satisfying read with an underlying female empowerment theme. It left me feeling grateful for the circle of female friends I have and desiring a girls’ weekend with them (although perhaps not canoeing!) I would not hesitate to recommend The Naked Gardener as a subtle, yet fulfilling, read.

The Naked Gardener is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author LB Gschwandtner please visit her website here, or go to Facebook or Twitter

Review copy of this book provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

Please check back with Psychotic State Book Reviews next Wednesday, November 17, 2010, for my interview with author LB Gschwandtner. 


Tales of Whimsy said...

Great review. I wondered about this one.

Cindy said...

It sounds interesting! Great review :)