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A Garden to Keep (Derby #4)

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  302 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Suddenly alone and looking for the point when her husband's betrayal began, Abby traces the path of her marriage and is caught off guard by the realization of her own past failures. Original.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by Bethany House Publishers (first published 2001)
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May 09, 2011 AlixJamie rated it liked it
This book is basically a record of one woman's thoughts over the span of roughly five months. As such, every chapter is about 2% storyline and 98% digression. I suspect that if you took out all the digression you would be left with about three or four chapters of disjointed narrative. I really only read this book because a friend wanted my opinion on it and I really only finished it because I wanted to know if Elizabeth forgave Ken and for the snatches of humor that were woven into the monologue ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing
The Author gripped me with the opening pages. Not fake in the lives portrayed but people that I could ache with and rejoice with. I did feel a bit like I was a ping-pong ball inside this woman's head - thoughts flittering here and there rapidly. But then that's how my husband often tells me I speak, jumping from thought to unconnected thought. Thus I felt right at home in this woman's over active brain, bouncing around less as she found security and peace. WELL TOLD!
Can't wait for Jamie to deli
Aug 15, 2011 Tina rated it did not like it
I liked the book until the main character remarked that she wasn't a good mother because she didn't teach her children the gospel after a few hours with talking with a born again Christian. ARRRgh. I dropped the book after that. I threw it in the trash at the end of the sentence. The judgmental stuff wrapped in spun sugar. I try and be open minded and read all kinds of books about characters with different religions and how it affects them but this was over the top. This was second of hers that ...more
Oct 29, 2015 Manda rated it it was amazing
Wow, I enjoyed this reread so much – maybe more than the first time I read it years ago. The writing is completely introspective, and the emphasis is on the characters rather than the action of the plot. But I didn’t mind that at all. A pleasing narrative voice, beautiful insights into forgiveness and grace, and a satisfying resolution all added up to a lovely, lovely reading experience. If you enjoy character-driven works (AND if you like poetry – a major theme of this book), you’ll enjoy A ...more
Jul 27, 2013 Violet rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, poetry
Elizabeth Landis makes the decision to become a Christian on a Sunday just hours before she discovers her husband is having an affair. Jamie Langston Turner’s novel A Garden to Keep is the story of the next four months.

It is a literary tome that delves into Elizabeth’s past and present. She probes her marriage, her mothering, her friendships, and her relationship with her parents and in-laws. In this she is often comforted by her ‘friends,’ the poems that are her companions, teachers, seers and
Billie Sue
Nov 21, 2013 Billie Sue rated it really liked it
This is the 4th book I have read by Turner and she is the most unusual Christian author I have read. The style is sort of "stream of consciousness", rather rambling thoughts like we really have in life. In this novel, a woman experiences a depression and works her way out of it with the help of a new found Christian faith and her love of artful poetry. Her husband leaves her and she realizes that life is a garden that must be worked and kept up. She views the film "Babette's Feast", which helps ...more
Oct 26, 2016 J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you can put up with all the wandering dialog/thoughts, there are many good insights in the narrative. Hours could have shaved off of the story if all the unnecessary details had been omitted. Many times the narrative droned on & on, leading me to think the point she'll make must be really good if she's going to go to this much trouble to build up to it--but when the narrative FINALLY got back around to the story, she would hardly say anything at all! I got so tired of being told by the ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Sue-b-doo rated it liked it
Jamie Langston Turner is such a great writer! I have no idea how she knows so much about poetry for this book, but she is amazing! "A Garden to Keep" took me a loooooong time to get through. I would read a bit, put it down, pick it back up later, put it back down. The reason I didn't quit is that it was so good, but it was a narrative type book, so I felt I could read it like a diary almost. I was thrilled when Eldeen (needle!) showed up, a character from her other books...gotta love that dear ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Michelle rated it liked it
I don't read this type of book very often, but decided to read this one because the author is local. The main character does a lot of rambling which was tedious at first. Having experienced my parents separation and divorce I would say that it is follows closely what a woman goes through in such circumstances. Jamie Langston Turner does an interesting job of weaving poetry into the book so it was enjoyable to read. It provided much to think about. The last part of the book brings in the idea of ...more
Susan Jane Ritter

Jamie Langston Turner has told her story with a deep insight into the human heart which is only fully understood by our loving Creator...and understood on a somewhat lesser level by those of His children to whom He has revealed these "deep things." But to be able to tell her tale in the manner she did is a true gift of the's obvious that Jamie knows His redeeming love. As an old English major, I also bookmarked most of her poem refer
Mary Stephens
I have read other books by this author and have enjoyed them, but I am having a very diffcult time reading this book. I am an avid reader, but this is taking me a very long time to read. I keep getting lost and it takes me a lot of time to understand what is going on. I find the constant references to poetry distracting. I DO care enough about the main character to keep truding through in order to find out what happens to her. I have about 75 pages to go and hope I am finished soon so I can read ...more
Lynette Winterton
Oct 22, 2012 Lynette Winterton rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get used to Jamie's style of wandering in the story she told. It became more natural and fluid as I read it and connected myself to the main character. I want to read it again with my bible and the computer near by so I can search all her spiritual references and read about the poems she quoted. I have not been a big fan of poetry, but learned a new appreciation for it by the way Jamie wove it into the main character's life experiences. I was impressed with her insights ...more
Cath Martin
Mar 24, 2016 Cath Martin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: purchased
This book was selected by a member of our ladies book group, for our first book of the year. About 1/2 way through she realized it was NOT the book she intended to recommend. There was a reason!

I found the writing style (which was specific to the main character) being in the mind of a person with ADHD. Bottom line - I did not enjoy the book and ended up skimming through most of the pages, mining for the main point of each chapter. It was a sentiment held by most in the group.
Nov 10, 2014 Melissa rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, religion, gardens
I like the meandering journal-like style of this book. I dislike the persona's frequent appeals to people to keep reading, it distracts from some of the good traits this author has. This book feels more autobiographical than the others I've read by this author, and maybe because of this I like it better.

I do get irritated often with the "meta-writing", the self-consciousness of the author. But it has some redeeming qualities.

Becky Meyer
Giving up on this book because I'm tired of the author's tendency to get off topic and allow the story to drag. I'm having a hard time finding a book with a teacher as the protagonist for my reading challenge. It seems as though no one has written an interesting book about teachers. Are we boring subjects?
Aug 16, 2012 Heidi rated it liked it
Beautiful writing, great literary references, and a great storyline, as always, from this great, well-read author. However, the pace was a bit too leisurely - and I am one that LIKES a leisurely pace in good writing! Too meandering for me to give it more than 3 stars. Yet, as I said, the storyline of conversion, struggle, forgiveness, repentance was beautiful.
Mar 16, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing
This was an insightful book about a deteriorating marriage written by a lover of poetry who used literature as a haven from and a substitute for relationship, whose spouse was a lover of music who used music as his primary and almost exclusive world. I tend to think every marriage has communication problems/challenges, so enjoyed this introspective journey that was nurtured by spiritual truths.
Marcia Stehouwer
Feb 08, 2013 Marcia Stehouwer rated it it was amazing
If you like poetry and music, this book has great references. The story line is about the restoration of a marriage - but there is so much more that is given.

I have several of her books, and I don't often purchase fiction. The books themselves are hard to get hold of, but I've been able to get them on Kindle. Now I can travel with them!
Mar 01, 2015 Megan rated it liked it
I started out LOVING the book, but by the 150th page, I was about done. But I did want to know what happened in the end, so I did some skim reading to get me through. I liked the style of writing, but there was just too much poetry for my taste and so I personally couldn't enjoy the storyline as I hoped.
Mar 03, 2011 Laurie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I always enjoy Turner's books, but this one was a bit harder, as the narrator's personality made the writing very "stream of consciousness" form, hard to follow. I was impatient with the rabbit trails at times. She referenced a number of modern poets with whom I was unfamiliar, and whom I suspect I wouldn't appreciate, but I should probably give it another read one day.
Apr 10, 2015 Pamela rated it liked it
I had a hard time reading this book because I'm not in the protagonists shoes. Yet I feel the author did a masterful job of showing a new Christian dealing with the tragedy of learning her husband is having an affair.
Jan 31, 2008 Sandy rated it really liked it
This book is about the character finding out her husband is having an affair. It is a good book because as a woman it's usually hard to see the man's point of view but this book made me see the man's point of view.
Feb 17, 2013 Franknannie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I loved the story and have always been a big fan of this author. I just got bogged down with so much poetry talk. I do appreciate the intelligent and thoughtful way that this book was written though. I thoroughly enjoyed the way Ms. Turner developped Elizabeth and brought her personality to life.
Feb 18, 2015 Barbara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too many words.

This would have been a good story if the author had just told the story. But she kept getting away from the story and going in too many different directions. If it had been written with half the words it would have been twice as good. Cannot recommend.
Jun 15, 2016 Kim rated it it was amazing
I love this book and re-read it every year or so. It's rambling and extremely introspective and I relate to it on many levels. The writing style is not for everyone, but I connect with her obsessive desire to figure it all out when crisis strikes.
Oct 30, 2014 Cyndy rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful, emotional read. There were moments when I just set the book in my lap and took time to reflect on my own pains or failings. I enjoy a book that can take me beyond the story on the page, and into the story of my life. Well done!
Jo Ann
Mar 08, 2011 Jo Ann rated it it was amazing
Won the Christy Award for Christian fiction excellence...I'd like to purchase a copy and highlight all the great quotes and verses just for myself!
Jun 03, 2016 Angie rated it did not like it
Didn't get past page 50. I read to be entertained and this author just rambled on filling the pages with fluff and very little plot. Picked it up several times but I couldn't get into it.
Apr 15, 2012 Lora rated it liked it
I read this several years ago and remember that the main character's rambling was a bit much; too distracting. Other than that I cared enough about her to see it through to the end.
Feb 07, 2012 Jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Mrs. Turner taught me creative writing in college. I finally got around to reading one of her books. This particular book won a Christy Award.
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Jamie Langston Turner is the award-winning author of seven novels, including Sometimes a Light Surprises, Winter Birds, and Some Wildflower in my Heart, and has been a teacher for more than forty years. She is currently a professor of poetry and creative writing at Bob Jones University. Jamie lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with her husband.
More about Jamie Langston Turner...

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