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The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree (The Darling Dahlias #1)

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,313 ratings  ·  258 reviews
The country may be struggling through the Great Depression, but the good ladies of Darling, Alabama, are determined to keep their chins up and their town beautiful. Their garden club, the Darling Dahlias, has just inherited a new clubhouse and garden, complete with two beautiful cucumber trees in full bloom.

But life in Darling is not all garden parties and rosemary lemona...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Berkley Hardcover (first published 2010)
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First books of some good cozy series
111th out of 309 books — 370 voters
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369th out of 425 books — 1,301 voters

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Community Reviews

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Usually I like Albert’s cozies but this one just didn’t do it for me. I hate giving up on books and I did this one. It’s not in my book count for the year. This was just so incredibly slow. I think some of it was intentional, to give it that slow southern feel. The basic plot, it’s 1930, the Dahlias, a gardening club, just got a house bequeathed to them (much to the consternation of the nephew who was expecting his aunt to give it to him). I figure he’ll end up dead or cause them problems or som...more
Ginny Messina
I love Susan Wittig Albert. First, there is something rather endearing about her author photo; she's kind of unglamorous and apparently doesn’t give a hoot about it.

And second, she’s made me realize that I may, after all, be a person who likes “cozy mysteries.” I had no idea! I picked this up from my library’s new book shelf and brought it home--despite the fact that it’s a mystery-- because it takes place during the Depression and in a small southern town and involves ladies who garden. I didn...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Susan Wittig Albert is well-known for her cozy mystery series featuring China Bayles with titles such as Thyme of Death and Rosemary Remembered. She also writes a Victorian series with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym Robin Paige. If you are a cozy fan and have read any of these you will be delighted to know she has started a new series, taking place during the depression, in a fictional town in Alabama (probably based on Monroeville) called Darling, "which has 4 churches, 907 good...more
C.J. Prince
You probably know by now that I have a thing about titles. I want to remember them and this one also falls into the category of forgettable.

However, if you've ever read Susan Wittig Albert, you always want to read Susan Wittig Albert. And a new series. How could I resist.

The story begins with a slow pace, lots of wonderful description (she does incredible research on all her historical novels), in Darling, Alabama in May 1930. Post depression in the south combines with the women's gardening clu...more
If you enjoy Susan Wittig Albert's books, you will probably enjoy this one. Somewhere between her China Bayles series and her Beatrix Potter series, this one is a fairly light hearted romp into a different world and time.
The Dahlias are a gardening club in the small (fictional) town of Darling, Alabama. When a friend of two of the members is discovered dead, they decide to investigate the unusual circumstances surrounding it- and the funny goings-on at the bank at the same time.
The book is well...more
This is a new series by one of my favorite authors, set in 1930. Just the fact that it was set so long ago in a very racist area should mean that I wouldn't like it, but I really liked it. And not only because one of the characters is named Ophelia Snow!!

The Dahlias are women comprising a gardening club in Darling, Alabama. I really enjoyed reading this, and found that I was really immersed in the book and it was somewhat of a culture shock when I quit reading and came back to the "real world."

Judy Iliff
Susan has done it again! This is the first book of a new series set in a small town in Alabama in the 1930s. Even though I was born in the late 40's and raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota, so many, many descriptions Albert included in the book took me back to my childhood. There are great descriptions of gardening and plants, some of which I knew and many that I did not. I had never heard of a Cucumber Tree. While a mystery, the story is character-driven and, to me, those are the best. It...more
This was a fun book to read. I really enjoyed the characters and the setting. I liked learning about the times of the 1930s and the location of the state of Alabama from the book. The mystery was a simple one yet entertaining and the way it was told reminded me of Rita Mae Brown's works. I've really enjoyed Albert's other series featuring China Bayles and the way she wrote this book seemed a different style from that series, but it was still an enjoyable one. I look forward to reading more about...more
Megan Mccann
This is a fun series, not high literature, but enjoyable. I do like that the author does not sugarcoat the fact that this is set in the post-confederate South. We may not like some of the actions and words of the characters, but it is true to the time frame it is set in. Fact is, it was a lot worse at the time than she depicts -- but race has little to do with her plots, so I forgive her that. As a Southern woman, I feel it is important we never forget where we were, to remind us how far we have...more
Nancy Ellis
A thoroughly enjoyable "light" read about a garden club (the Dahlias) in small-town Alabama in 1930. Yes, there are a couple of mysteries in the plot, but nothing too intellectually demanding, and there are plenty of fun characters! It's entertaining and also interesting to read about life back then.....makes you realize how many "things" we take for granted now and can't imagine doing without! I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.
Don't read it for the mystery. Read it for the 1930s Alabama small town ambiance. The ladies of the Darling, AL gardening club, called the Dahlias, stand by each other in thick and thin. They find a murderer, an embezzler, an escaped convict, and someone who is just a darn fool. A handful of foods mentioned have recipes at the end. Anyone up for trying peanut butter meringue pie? My teeth ache just at the thought, but I'd give it a try.
This was a bit of a slow start because there are so many characters and this had 4 mysteries to solve. I fell in love with the Dahlia's. They remind me of a women's group I am a member of. They are a warm loving group of women who are each very interesting and independent personalities. They accept ( but don't like) the attitudes of the males with whom they come in contact. Since the time of this novel is in the 30's South, chauvinism is rampant.They choose not to buck the system. When they solv...more
I think this is my new favorite Susan Wittig Albert series! The series is set in 1930s Alabama and it feels real. I liked the characters, the dialogue, and the mysteries. Yep, there's more than one big mystery, rather there are several small ones to go with the main mystery. Definitely a good one to read or listen to. Can highly recommend it.
Susan Tweit
This first book in Susan Albert's newest mystery series is a charming read, with well-drawn characters and beautiful sense of place and history. It's a great book to pick up when you want to immerse yourself in a small town and its era, and just enjoy the story unfolding. It's also quietly subversive. In sum: a real delight!
I absolutely love these Darling Dahlia Stories. I like to think back on times when life was simpler. In some respects that is. Putting the wash through the wringer and hanging it out to dry is not that appealing. But the stories are nice.
Kinda like if we got to see Mayberry from the perspective of Aunt Bea and all her friends rather than Opie and Andy Griffith and Barney Fife. Oh, and if there was violent crime and truly scandalous behavior.
Jul 16, 2010 Oleta rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Picked up my copy yesterday and read it last night. It is great love the darling dahlias, such a wide range of characters and a multi layered mysteries You did it again Susan. I am ready for the next one.
Bobbi Bullard
I really enjoyed this. It's charming in a good, old fashioned way. Everyone involved is genteel and sweet. I'll look up more of Albert's Dahlia books.
I've read several books by Susan Wittig Albert (some Beatrix Potter tales and the Victorian stories written jointly with her husband under the pseudonym, Robin Paige), and as I expected, this beginning to another series demonstrates the style I've noticed; that is, while not exactly wholesome, there is a feeling of politeness about the way things are presented. Although The Darling Dahlias features a historical period of 1930s South - a bit before my time - I felt a connection with both my child...more
Cathy Cole
Susan Wittig Albert almost immediately transported me to Depression-Era Alabama in this first book in the series. She's done her research, and her mentions of songs playing on the radio and the movies that were showing at the theater in town created a lot of the needed ambiance. Her research shows up everywhere-- in the prices people were paying for things, in their recipes, in the fear that swept through the community when rumors of a bank closure and a prison break began to circulate-- and all...more
I really wanted to love this book, but it took me SO long to get interested in it. I don't think I was really hooked until about halfway through, so I am glad I stuck with it, but I wish it had been more interesting in the beginning.

I'm a big fan of cozy mysteries, in which lay citizens (usually women) decide to try to solve mysteries and crimes on their own rather than having a detective handle it. I really enjoyed the idea of a garden club full of women who use the party line and the local gos...more
Set in the Spring of 1930, the garden club of Darling, Alabama is celebrating the life of the founding member, Mrs. Dahlia Blackstone, by renaming their club in her honor.” Henceforth and forever, the would now as the Darling Dahlias.”

The club was also left the Blackstone home and gardens to use as their clubhouse. The home isn’t too large but the gardens have been written about in the Montgomery Advertiser and the Selma Times Journal. There is also a large cucumber tree in front and another in...more
This is the first in a new mystery series by Susan Wittig Albert set in the 1930's in Darling, Alabama. A group of ladies in the town participate in a garden club and have been recently bequeathed a cottage that they plan to use as their clubhouse. While we meet many characters from the town, the book focuses on three women in particular, Lizzy, who is single and is a legal secretary, Verna, a probate clerk who is a widow, and the mayor's wife, Ophelia. The ladies are concerned about maintaining...more
Pmalcpoet Pat Malcolm
The author had fun with this book, and so does the reader. It's a real hoot! This is the first book in a new series by the familiar author of the China Bayles mysteries set in the Texas hill country and titled with the names of plants, like Lavender Lies, Mistletoe Man, and the like. This new series is set in the 1930s in the deep South. The Darling Dahlias are the local garden club, and the cucumber tree is a colloquial name for the magnolia tree growing in front of their new clubhouse. Of cour...more
I really enjoyed this first book in Susan Wittig Albert's new cozy mystery series. The Dahlias are members of the Darling, Alabama gardening club. It's 1930, just at the beginning of the Depression, and there is a great deal of worry that the town's only bank may be failing. The rather wild young woman who works the cosmetic counter at the local pharmacy, has been discovered shot to death in a wrecked car. There has been an escape from the local prison farm, and is Ophelia Snow's husband having...more
Cheryl A
Darling, Alabama (population 907 good Christian people)in May 1930 has fallen on hard economic times along with the rest of the country. Luckily for the town, the Darling Dahlias Garden Club is looking out for the people and lending a helping hand whenever possible. When a young woman working at the cosmetic counter at the drugstore goes missing shortly after an escape at the nearby prison farm, Lizzy Lacy, president of the Garden Club and secretary to the town's lawyer and Verna Tidwell, Club t...more
Jose Santos
The Darling Dahlias are a gardening club in a small city at the 1930's state of Alabama. In a small town everybody knows everybody and gossip is like oxygen for them. And in this city, there's a mistery around every corner: A man who runs from the state prison, a ghost that digs during the night, money that desapears from the only bank in town and a death the might not seem what really is... well the ladies of 'Darling Dahlias' couldn't stay put and do nothing.
Very funny. Very well writte. Very...more
The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree (Berkley 2010) introduces the ladies of the Darling Dahlias Garden Club in fictional Darling, Alabama. It’s 1930, and the club has just inherited an old estate to use as their clubhouse. The garden of the estate includes a possibly haunted cucumber tree (a type of magnolia with fruit resembling tiny red cucumbers) and perhaps a treasure buried during the Civil War. The Dahlias are dedicated to beautifying their town and sharing tips to help each other su...more
This book started very slow, with a large number of characters introduced. The story is a light hearted mystery set in the 1930's and the main characters are a group of ladies in a garden club in a small town in Alabama. I listened to this as an audiobook as I was doing other things and it kept my mind occupied with very little complexity to the story. If I had been reading the book, I think I might have quit out of boredom in the first few chapters, but, listening, it was okay. Definately not a...more
Penny McGill
This was sweet and lovely. I started off thinking I wouldn't be able to make a connection with the Dahlias due to their intense interest in gardening but that all fell away due to the clever writing of Susan Wittig Albert. I love a book that has strange little characters popping up all over the place and it becomes possible to get to know them well through the story. A few of these extra characters became my favourites and I'm sure I'll each of her other books with delight.

It's a pretty good mys...more
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Bookworm Bitches : July 2013: The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree 16 102 Dec 09, 2013 09:43AM  
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Susan is the author/co-author of biographical/historical fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction.

A WILDER ROSE: the true story of Rose Wilder Lane, who transformed her mother from a farm wife and occasional writer to a literary icon

DEATH COME QUICKLY,#22 in the China Bayles series

THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE SILVER DOLLAR BUSH, #5 in the Darling Dahlias series, set in the early 1930s in fictional Darlin...more
More about Susan Wittig Albert...
Thyme of Death (China Bayles, #1) Hangman's Root (China Bayles, #3) Chile Death (China Bayles, #7) Witches' Bane (China Bayles, #2) The Tale of Hill Top Farm (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, #1)

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