Fiction. Women's Studies. Eve Gates is intent on finding a way to fly away from the small town where her millworker family lives a wary existence and where her best friend meets tragedy. Tired of battling her loving but close-mouthed mother, Maisie, for details about Evangeline, the grandmother who died before Eve was born, and whose death seems to be the heart of the mystery that swirls around her family, Eve heads for New York, for Paris, for all the places she has conjured through her love of reading only to be called back due to family illnesses. Now she must decide whether she will settle back into her old home town or move into the larger world she has always craved. If she stays, can a romance in a small- minded community provide a large- enough window on life? If she goes, will she ever resolve the mystery that her mother and aunts guard so closely? The path forward lies through a search for the friend she thought was lost forever, and by connecting with the grandmother she never knew."
Glenda Bailey-Mershon grew up in the Appalachian South. Curiosity led her to Chicago, where she founded a tutoring center, counseled immigrant students, taught anthropology and women’s studies, and published nonfiction on community history and politics. Stints as a bookstore co-owner and editor underpin her workshops for writers. A love of science and multicultural viewpoint is tangible in her poetry and fiction, which has appeared in qaartsiluni, Lunarosity, Appalachian Heritage, and other journals. Her first novel, entitled Eve's Garden, includes the voices of a Romani grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter, and will be published in 2014 by Twisted Road Publications. She recently co-edited Jane's Stories IV: Bridges and Borders, the fourth Jane's Stories anthology, encompassing work by women in conflict from around the world. Her short story, “Being Emily,” was a finalist in Our Stories Journal’s Fiction Contest. She has published two poetry chapbooks, sa-co-ni-ge: poems from the Southern Appalachians; and Bird Talk: Poems, as well as The History of the American Women's Movement: A Study Guide. Currently, she lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Reading Eve's Garden is akin to taking a journey that crosses continents, explores cultures, and vacillates back and forth through the years of 1919 to 1973. The beauty in Bailey-Mershon's story is the way in which she develops incredibly strong female characters and evokes a strong sense of place.
Eve Gates wants to escape the small Southern mill town where her family goes about its daily life. Eve and her mother, Maisie, are often at odds. Her best friend has encountered an unspeakable tragedy. And, certain that there is a deep dark mystery that her mother and her aunts are keeping from her about the grandmother she never knew, Eve wants to know more about her Romani roots.
In time, Eve gradually realizes that the strong women in her life are bound by the power of friendship and family, even when trying to shield her from prejudice and loss.
This exquisite portrait of a group of people who are often misunderstood, ostracized, and/or vilified is filled with elements of mystery, romance, and history. It is a work of art in its own right, a work that will linger in your thoughts long after reading the last page.
by Lee Ambrose for Story Circle Book Reviews reviewing books by, for, and about women
This is a novel rich with emotion and hidden history. Generations of women wind around around and through each other in layers of tragedy, beauty, and reconciliation. The language is lush. The story is strong and tender. Enjoy.
I will write a full review of my observations and deep praise later. This is what I shall say now, and it has zero bearing on admiring and knowing Glenda Bailey-Bershon as a writer, inspiration, and friend. This is one of the best books I've read in at least a decade of voracious reading. Lyrical, page-turning, soul-deep, and the kind of novel that stays with you, changes your thinking, and leaves you loving the characters and the story and the language and its deep-seated and myriad lessons--truly? For the rest of your life. Writing is difficult, an instructor once said, but the trick is to make it appear as though it is easy. Mershon did this brilliantly. One is left with nothing but complete devotion and connection to place, story, characters almost instantly, and the deep bond and lessons thoughout roll like a wave you want to ride forever while offering a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. Brava brava brava! In the lines of Connie May Fowler. A mentor. Mershon has created a long-lasting novel worthy of all the awards in fiction today.
First of all, I chose this book because I am acquainted with the author who once gave me writing advice for my memoir. Then I was captured by the characters with their wildly divergent backgrounds, goals and ways of being. Finally, Bailey-Mershon's language and story that wove its way into my heart.
A sweeping, dramatic, and heart-wrenching story about three generations of women in a small Georgia town (turn of the 20th century to the '70s), them discovering their heritage, and them grappling with the effects and reactions to the scandal of an unexpected pregnancy in their town. The poetic descriptive language in this book is also gorgeous.
Glenda Bailey-Mershon grew up in the Appalachian South in a family with diverse roots. A former bookseller and publisher, her publications include sa-co-ni-ge: blue smoke: poems from the Southern Appalachians; Bird Talk: Poems, A History of the American Women’s Movement: a Study Guide, and four volumes as editor of Jane’s Stories’ anthologies by women writers, including Bridges and Borders.
In Eve’s Garden, Eve Gates is intent on finding a way to fly away from the small town where her millworker family lives a wary existence and where her best friend meets tragedy. Tired of battling her loving but close-mouthed mother, Maisie, for details about Evangeline, the grandmother that Eve never knew, and whose death seems to be the heart of the mystery that swirls around her family, Eve heads for New York, for Paris, for all the places she has conjured through her love of reading––only to be called back due to family illnesses. Now she must decide whether she will settle back into her old home town or move into the larger world she has always craved. If she stays, can a delightful romance in a small-minded community provide a large-enough window on life? If she goes, will she ever resolve the mystery that her mother and aunts guard so closely? The path forward lies through a search for the friend she thought was lost forever, and Eve can get there only by connecting with the grandmother she never knew.
This was only fair. I read it because it was the highest rated book on my good reads list, but that will teach you to pay attention, as it was only rated by 21 people, and I'm guessing they were all friends of the author. It took a very long time to get into this book, it was about 100 pages too long and used to many words. The story only got interesting halfway through in the surprises were quite nice at the end. It was hard to follow in the beginning. I would not recommend it.
This is a complex, beautifully written story about a woman's search to understand her family historyand figure out family mysteries and secrets. Its view into the world of Romani Americans was new to me and consistently fascinating.