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The First Gardener

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  1,023 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews

Jeremiah Williams has been tending the gardens of the Tennessee governor’s mansion 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, have struggled for ten years to have a child and are now enjoying a sweet season of life—anticipating the coming reelection and sen

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Published July 19th 2011 by Tyndale House Publishers (first published July 1st 2011)
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Sep 12, 2011 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not having read any books written by Denise, I had no idea what to expect. I'm not a big fan of contemporary fiction. But being a southerner, the setting and the cover enticed me to choose this book. I am so glad!!!

With a myriad of characters, this is one emotional roller coaster ride. From a child's giddy laughter to a gardner's silent prayers you will be taken to depths and heights you cannot imagine in this jewel of a book!

I must admit when I began reading I realized fairly quickly what was
~♡~ Unsolved Mystery ~♡~

I had high hopes for this one. It fell apart around 200 pages.

I didn't like the silly sarcasms/"humorous" quips and especially at the most inappropriate times.
I didn't like the "twist" at the end. It seemed to come out of nowhere and didn't add to the story.

I'm excited to be finished with it. Yay!

I would read more by the author. Hopefully, her other works are redeeming.
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
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 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
Aug 01, 2012 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I saw the title The First Gardener, My mind first went to the thought that it would be about Adam or perhaps God as the ultimate First Gardener. I had no idea what it would be about, but it stands to reason that if the spouse of the head of state is The First Wife, then the one who takes care of the grounds must be the First Gardener. This is a novel of heart ache and turmoil but also of forgiveness.
Who has not lived in the world of “what if” or “if only i” or even blaming our selves? This
Lydia (Overweight Bookshelf)
First reviewed here: http://overweight-bookshelf.blogspot....

If ever an inanimate object could be treated as a person, and treated poorly, it is this book. My dysfunctional relationship with this story spanned the extremes of emotional reaction: I laughed with it, screamed at it, sassed back at it, and-to my shame-slapped it around when things didn't go my way. But the jump from anger to love grew smaller and smaller until I couldn't let this book go. It embraced me like a warm blanket and soake
Sep 15, 2011 LuAnn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely and touching story, yet very sad at the same time. When an awful tragedy rips through the first family of Tennessee, Jeremiah Williams reaches out to help. With kindness and patience, he delivers advice and compassion to the governor and his wife, hoping that he can, in his own way, bring some healing and mercy to their lives.

I found this book very compelling and tender, as well as poignant. I also found myself drawn to the characters, especially Jeremiah. The author made we wan
Jul 15, 2011 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished a book that should be a movie. The book is called The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones. This book is a definitely a chick movie kind of book. The book is about a southern family but not just any southern family it is about the first family of Tennessee. Governor Gray London his wife Mackenzie and their five year old daughter are quite the family. Mackenzie’s mom Eugenia Quinn is a strong character with southern ties that run deep. I loved her three friends each one was fun ...more
D.M. Webb
One couple...two tragedies.
If one death could steal your joy, then what would two deaths do, steal your soul?
Gray and Mackenzie are brought from joy to despair to hope and then thrown into the pit of hell.
A review will never capture the essence of what this story does. It shows that no matter how big the hurt, the pain, the hope, etc., nothing is too big for God.

The chapters intermingled with Jeremiah's POV give a true Southern taste and how deep our roots go when it come to leaning and trustin
Jan 10, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has to be one of the saddest yet encouraging books I've read in a long time. Governor Gray London and his wife Mackenzie struggled for ten years to get pregnant, and their little girl, Maddie, now five, is the center of their world. When tragedy strikes, they lose their faith and their way. Can the gardener remind them that no matter how dark the winter is, spring will come?

This story will tear at your heart. The first tragedy happens, and just when you think Mack and Gray will have a break
Aug 13, 2012 Ginger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Who Has Lost A Loved One
I literally just finished this. My mind is still reeling from my thoughts and feelings. This is the story of the London family, the First Family of Tennessee. This family goes through a series of events which no one should have to. It's a story of grief, pain, and healing. The First Gardener, Jeremiah, has a gift which he uses through the flowers he tends to. Not all of his decisions are met with welcome and understanding, but he feels strongly that the Lord is directing him to do so.

The charact
Aug 15, 2012 Jayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written book that captures the raw emotions of the stages of loving, losing, grieving, and learning to live, trust, and forgive again. It is the story of Mackenzie and Gray London, the Governor and First Lady of Tennessee; however, I believe the main character of the story is Jeremiah,an unofficial family confidante but officially the gardner of the Governor's mansion - hence the title of the book "The First Gardener". I cheered with the family, cried with them, felt their pain an ...more
Margaret Metz
Jul 15, 2011 Margaret Metz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was hard to read. Not because it was poorly written or because the characters didn't speak to me. They did. I read a lot of fiction and a few non-fiction titles a year. This is one of those fictional titles that reads almost like non-fiction. The setting is so contemporary and the issues are ones that could have been grabbed from newspaper headlines running this year. Some of it felt so familiar that I believed I was going to read it was based on a true story.

It was a painful story of
Feb 29, 2012 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This caught my eye at the library because I love to garden. Had no idea what it was about. I loved this book because of the strong Southern flavor. I have come to love the South having lived in the South for 27 years. I caught me by surprise, though, because it also is about dealing with the death of a child. Shed some new tears for the loss of my own son as I related to the main character, Mackenzie. I have felt all the emotions and feelings she experienced. I lived in the story all during the ...more
Oct 04, 2014 Libby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scribd
This was my first time reading anything by this author and I really liked the book. I can't say I enjoyed reading it because there was a lot of hard things in the book, but it was very well written and the descriptions of grief we're very realistic. I fell in love with Maddy and think that everyone should have a Jeremiah in their life.and her mom's friends were truly loony! But they make me laugh.

This book is from Scribd- For a free 60 day free trial use the following referral link-
THE FIRST GARDENER by Denise Hildreth Jones is an interesting inspirational general fiction.This is an excellent story of love,loss,life,change in the season of life,gardener,faith,spiritual insight,loss of a child,with true life characters and the greatest gift of all the heart.This is inspiring story of life and its difficulties.A touching,compelling Southern story with grief,faith,hope and a valuable gift.This is a must read. This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher ...more
Lenore Webb
Jul 29, 2011 Lenore Webb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to journey to the South with a tale that tugged at my heart. The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones is beautifully told capturing my soul as I explored the governor's mansion. I loved how the story paralleled tending to a garden takes love, time and attention the same as tending to a broken spirit. You will love this story if your a fan of epic life stories. The First Gardener was one that made me laugh and cry. A must have for your nightstand reading stack! Denise expresses her own S ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story. Truly heartbreaking, and made me cry multiple times. I enjoyed reading about the character's relationships with each other and their relationship with GOD. Some of it was tough to swallow, but understandable in the face of true grief. I did have a problem with some of the character development, but the story held me and kept me interested. Good read if you enjoy the South. Kind of Steel Magnolias-ish ;b
Nandi Crawford
What a book@!! I got the book over a year or so ago but didn't get into it until these past couple of days when I was sick and needed something to catch my interest. But the whammy at the end really hurt. I loved the characters. I was truly sorry for the little one. For the momma left behind. For those who shared her sorrow. But was surely glad that Jeremiah was a great help and inspiration to them.
Jul 22, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read all of Denise Hildreth's books and have enjoyed them all. This one though was without a doubt the best book I've read in a very long time. The emotions were so real. The politics pulled straight from today's headlines. I fell in love with all the characters and cried with them and laughed with them. Can't wait for her next book.
Aug 22, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-book
This book took me through so many emotions that I couldn't put it down. I loved all the characters in the book and it definitely would make a great movie.
I will definitely seek out another Denise Hildreth Jones book and I hope it's as good as this one.
Sep 23, 2011 Patsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This book was kinda hard to get into at first. However, once the story got going it was a great read. The story takes place in Tennessee. It tells of Mackenzie and her husband, Governor Gray London and the tragedy that takes place in their lives. It's a story of enduring and overcoming.
Nov 14, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book I've read in a long, long time. The middle got kinda depressing, but I couldn't put it down and I'm glad I didn't!!!
Danielle Comparette
The beginning of this book is kind of slow, but overall it is a good read. It is a compelling story of loss and healing. The ending was also quite a surprise to me!
Aug 20, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this was an excellent read. Had me sobbing, laughing, and thinking about how our God works in our lives.
Dawn Cook
Sep 28, 2011 Dawn Cook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. What a great story couldn't put it down. I will pass book on to others to enjoy. Thanks again.
Mar 01, 2013 Ivy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
awesome book. would definitely recommend
May 01, 2016 Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating 4.5
Melissa Snow
Feb 04, 2013 Melissa Snow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would highly suggest purchasing a box of tissue or having a box handy when you read this book!!
Feb 01, 2017 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a sucker for anything southern, deep-rooted issues and great characters- and this book had it all! I loved Mackenzie and Gray's relationship (mostly because I loved Gray!) and I loved the dynamics between Mackenzie's mother's friend group. The ending was great- I totally didn't see that right under my nose! And a star was added because there was mentions of Italian decent in the it! Great writing and good christian elements.
Katherine McDermott
A wonderful book about grief and love and unexpected joy. This was a sensitive, uplifting book that deeply touched me. A quiet, godly message reaches out to our very limited understanding. This book will open your eyes to a deeper understanding of the human heart.
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Denise Jones is a southern girl who loves Jesus, SEC football, family, friends, good food and cold Coca-Colas. She is the mom of one shih-tzu, the bonus mom to five kiddo's and the husband of one Mr. Jones. She spends her time leading Reclaiming Hearts Ministries in her home of Franklin, TN. And every now and then she writes a few books.

You can email her at:
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