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Author/Reader Discussions > THE NAKED GARDENER discussion - Mark Your Spoilers!

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (last edited Oct 31, 2010 06:12PM) (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10120 comments Mod
Hi everyone! Tomorrow marks the start of THE NAKED GARDENER discussion.

For those of you who started reading, please mark any spoilers at the beginning of the post so we don't accidently give anything away.

The author will be popping in from time to time to field any questions and participate in the discussion as we move through the book this month!

Happy reading all!

message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol I am sorry I can't commit right now to the discussion as I enjoyed The Art Of Devotion discussion immensely. Hope it is a lively as the other one.

message 3: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10120 comments Mod
Me too!

message 4: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 714 comments Hi Lori,
I commented on the blog but you listed out other people as getting the book but not me. Not sure if there was a problem with my post or if you need more info etc-let me know.

message 5: by bridgette ✨ (new)

bridgette ✨ (bridgettef) I've received my book! When will the discussion start? And is there going to be a reading schedule?

message 6: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 714 comments Mine came today!

message 7: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10120 comments Mod
No, no reading schedule. Read at your own pace, throughout the month of November. You can start reading now, but the discussion won't start until Nov 1st.

Hooray for the books arriving already!

message 8: by Miki (new)

Miki | 6 comments My book arrived, and I am looking forward to the discussion.

message 9: by Choco (new)

Choco I got the book today! Thanks for the copy, and I'm also looking forward to the discussion :)

message 10: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10120 comments Mod

message 11: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Cain (kimberlycain) This looks like a wonderful book (love the title & cover as well).

message 12: by bridgette ✨ (new)

bridgette ✨ (bridgettef) I'm a chapter in, and I like it so far!

message 13: by Donna (new)

Donna (dfiggz) | 1626 comments I would love to read this. I can't wait to hear/see everyone's reviews!

message 14: by LB (last edited Nov 01, 2010 06:35PM) (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Hi Everyone:
I'm the author of The Naked Gardener & so glad to be part of this readalong. Thanks go out to Lori for her work setting it up.
My name is LB (Laura B) Gschwandtner and I look forward to hearing your thoughts throughout the month.

message 15: by Marcia (new)

Marcia | 5 comments Naked gardening was a totally new concept for me. Is it possible I could actually know one and not realize it?! :-) I am stumped to be able to put myself in a mind set of stepping into my garden unclothed. LOL. Katelyn pulls it off with panache. Of all the women in the book I most closely identify with her.

Can I assume there will be a sequel...Vol 2? I would like to get to know the characters more in depth. Hang out with each of them the way we did Katelyn, and how about Mrs. Ward, there has to be some good history on her....

message 16: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (pocokat) | 12 comments My book arrived today!!

message 17: by LB (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Marcia -- it surprised me to discover I knew 3 women who gardened naked. That's what got me interested in writing this novel.
And yes I am taking notes on a sequel featuring all the women including Mrs. Ward. Katelyn has a baby, Erica's son comes home from the wars, Mrs. Ward sees the mill come back to life, and the town of Trout River Falls becomes more than a dot on the map.

message 18: by Erika (new)

Erika (erikareading) I got my book yesterday. I should be starting it soon. Looking forward to the comments and discussion!

message 19: by Christa (new)

Christa I read the book and loved it. It's a book about women and self-discovery without the often narcissistic and male-bashing tendencies in many of the new-age-inspired navel-gazing works. A group of women get together on an exciting trip down the river asking themselves and each other some important questions about their lives. Beautifully done. I'd love a sequel as well!

message 20: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Pilgrim (oldgeezer) | 107 comments Hi folks,
I know this is probably out of order as I have no idea what the book is really about. This will mean little to non brits, but the thought of Charlie Dimmock planting her pansies out in the buff!!! As for Allan Titchmarsh and his petunias!! well we won't go there!!!
All the best Paul Rix [author of beyond the potting shed]

message 21: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (pocokat) | 12 comments I just finished the book and loved it!! I know what it is like to consider love and commitment a second time around and I found the way the book dealt with that to be very realistic. I loved the canoeing adventure the women went on...very freeing, very true to real spirit of women. I found the book a very enjoyable read and I am totally looking forward to their continuing adventure. Well Done!!!

message 22: by Erika (new)

Erika (erikareading) So I'm only about 40 pages into the book but I have to say, I am really loving this so far. I love all the characters especially. The main character along with the writing style made her seem so real to me I actually had to check and then double check to see if I was reading fiction or non-fiction! I love all the gardening descriptions too. So many things reminding me of my mom and grandmother in their gardens. Good thing they didn't garden naked though. I wouldn't want any memories creeping up on me if they did!

message 23: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (sharon54220) | 4 comments I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I don't know if I would ever garden naked, but you go girl (Katelyn). I just love Mrs Ward. Wow, what a ride on the canoe trip. They say that things happen in mysterious ways, and they did with meeting Mrs. Ward
I definitely can't wait for a sequel.

message 24: by Christa (new)

Christa I think gardening naked is the perfect thing to do. Don't have to worry about getting your clothes dirty. Just hose yourself down in the end. Don't know why we're not all doing it! LOL.

message 25: by Miki (new)

Miki | 6 comments I am about one quarter finished with the book. So far I can relate to the parts that describe the place they live. I had a very good friend, many years ago who converted a chicken coop to live in. There was a house on the property with a bathroom. The coop had electricity, and a water supply from a high creek that worked on a gravity system. The garden was several raised beds and there was an apple orchard. In the coop, there was a wood burning stove, a refridgerator, and a separate bedroom. There was a root celler underneath. The door was high off the ground and it locked when the string was pulled inside. I loved staying there and working in the garden surrounded by mountains. I always kept my clothes on, however.

message 26: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 170 comments If i gardened naked, I would be worried that certain parts of me would get in the way of the clippers and that would NOT be a good thing!

message 27: by LB (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Hi Everyone: It's really fun to read your comments. And I'm so glad you're enjoying the book.
Keep those clippers sheathed!

message 28: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10120 comments Mod
How's everyone doing with the read-a-long? Enjoying the story line? Any questions for L.B.?

message 29: by Choco (new)

Choco I'm about half way through. I may be the only one, but I haven't been able to relate to any of the characters so far!

L.B., did you have the specific audience in mind when you wrote the book?

message 30: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 714 comments I just started this morning and I like it so far. Hoping to have more time later today.

message 31: by LB (last edited Nov 13, 2010 08:27AM) (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Hi Everyone: I thought I'd weigh in about now & talk a bit about how I came to write this particular book, who I was writing for, and why I chose the main theme.
I'll start there.
At a certain point in my life, I knew three women who gardened naked. They all had different takes on why they did it but they all felt it was really important to them. So I began to think about a woman named Katelyn Cross who goes to her garden naked and what that might mean and in what ways it would be liberating for her and important in her life. The garden symbolizes her world and the rocks in it keep getting in her way. So she has to deal with life's obstacles, even in her garden -- which is her sanctuary.
I chose the theme -- naked gardening -- as a way to explore how women, who so often put themselves aside in order to care for everyone else, can get back in touch with their inner spirit. I think a woman's spirit is what enables her to be there for everyone else. But she also needs to keep her true spirit accessible.
I was thinking about women in a general way for the theme, but then I developed the seven female characters to symbolize the stages of a woman's life. These characters are different ages from 20s to elderly. They're going through different life crises or changes -- son off at war & husband retired, husband cheating on beautiful wife who's coping with aging, dedicated professional woman faced with unexpected pregnancy, and the rest. And of course Katelyn, fretting over losing herself within the confines of marriage. I think these are universal themes for women. It's not about who does the laundry but of who you think you are and who you want to become and not being stifled by what society expects you to be.
Who was I writing for? Women ages 30 and up. The fact that I've gotten some five star reviews from men has actually surprised me. I never thought any man would read The Naked Gardener (of course I did get one 2-star review on Amazon from a guy who said: "Girl talk, Yuk." That gave me a good chuckle.
But he's right, it is girl talk. I love girl talk.
Thanks, everyone, for reading the book & commenting.

message 32: by LB (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Oh, and Miki, I'm so glad to hear about your chicken coop experience. There are such places and, when you find one, it's like finding a magical world.

message 33: by Marcia (last edited Nov 13, 2010 05:22PM) (new)

Marcia | 5 comments Choco - it may just be that your experience hasn't touched on people like Roz, Charlene or Erica and the others. For that reason I think the 30+ target group is right on.

I liked the flashbacks to Katelyn's past - the flyfishing scenario (I love fishing and live to flyfish for tarpon one day), the Italian trist (if you haven't ck'd this off your list, you've wanted to :-)), but I must say I did reach a point when she once again went on her woe is me and it's Maze that's the problem trips, and I wanted to swat her up side the head and tell her to get over herself!!
Fortunately she did by the end of the book or I probably wouldn't look forward to a sequel.

I grew up and live in rural VT. I left VT to attend college and worked for many years away from VT. I was fortunate to travel in the US and abroad and whenever people would ask me where I was from, I would always say "I'm from VT but I live in Maine." I moved back to VT at age 40 and find my friends in people who never left, others like me who left and returned and those from away and have been drawn to our beautiful state. Trout River Falls has taken the image in my mind of a town close to me, which has found new summer vitality by establishing an extensive biking trail system. (Hint, hint L.b.!)

My only disappointment with the book was that it all happened too fast for me. I don't bond or open up with any people as fast as these ladies did! Of course, Katelyn has been visiting summers for years and the others have known each other for years - but you have to make assumptions. I could have enjoyed another 200 pages to the story. These are smart strong women, I wanted to know more about their relationships with each other, then I wanted an action plan, a business plan and most of all I wanted them to have to prove themselves to Mrs. Ward who would throw around more of her savvy and experience.

I'm thinking Book 2.... :-)

message 34: by Erika (new)

Erika (erikareading) L.B., I noticed after checking the book page that it says "Volume 1" in brackets. Does this mean you are writing a "Volume 2" in the near future? The end did seem like you alluded to a sequel there. And I would definitely read a sequel of The Naked Gardener.

I finished the book this morning and have now read the comments a bit more carefully (I was trying to avoid spoilers before). I am not yet 30 (I am 25, 26 in a few months) but I really enjoyed this book, so you have definitely reached out beyond your intended demographic. I could relate a lot to the inner thoughts of Katelyn quite a bit. I had more trouble with the others. I did like Hope a lot more than the other two too though.

LB, I have no idea if this was a concious decision or I am just reading too much into it because you focused so much on women's lives in general, but I really got a "feminism" vibe from this. It was gentle and I loved it! So, was it intentional?

I have written most of my review but wont get to posting it (here & on my blog) until next week I guess. But I did rate it for my friends here in the meantime.

message 35: by LB (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Erica (and anyone else who noticed the Volume 1 next to the title of my book). Well, I am both embarrassed and happy and here's why.
Embarrassed because when you upload a book to CreateSpace on Amazon, it's a bit confusing at one point as to what to click & I clicked on Volume 1 only to discover later (when I couldn't change it) that I had done something wrong. I know, right -- imagine that?
Happy because many readers have requested a follow up book with the characters from The Naked Gardener, which I do plan to write.
It's great to know that these characters resonated enough with readers that they want to see what happens to them next. I want to know what happens also, especially how they save Trout River Falls and how that effort impacts their lives. So thanks to everyone for the interest.
Feminism in the book ... hmmm. That's a complex question. Feminism means so many different things to different people -- both men and women.
I think more about the issue of equality than feminism. But with equality comes taking responsibility for one's own fate and decisions. In the book there is a wide range of that. For instance, Erica is highly self sufficient yet she has been married a long time. Valerie has been in a dependent relationship where her husband holds all the power and she's now facing the vulnerability (and anger) that comes with giving up power. And Katelyn ... that's exactly what Katelyn is struggling to balance. Being with someone without becoming a third arm.
Earlier someone else said she wanted to slap Katelyn when she was complaining about Maze all the time. That's a reasonable reaction I think. To blame someone else for your situation is never empowering. It just leads to resentment and a kind of seething feeling. So as a reader you got that. But Katelyn does resolve it. She does move on, as you noted. Now what will happen to her when she IS married? That's a question for the follow up book.
At 25 or 26 I don't think I would have been concerned about these issues as much as how will I ever meet someone who's right for me and will I be happy long term with anyone. That's kind of what hope is skirting around the edges of in the book. The discussion is about sex but the underlying theme there is youth is by definition naive, and how does a naive person make a good choice?
Fiction is a slippery undertaking. As a writer you think you're concentrating on certain themes or one theme but, when you finish the first draft and examine it, you find you were writing about something that was hidden to you before you started. In the process of writing, you discover what your themes really are.
Thanks to all the readers. This is a wonderful experience for me.

message 36: by Choco (new)

Choco L.B., you just said exactly what I was thinking about Katelyn when I was reading the book. To me Katelyn seemed to blame Maze and was very quick to generalize (men don't understand etc), and by stereotyping men she was stereotyping women, hence, creating her own 'prison' and feeling trapped (or afraid of getting trapped) as 'a third arm' in a marriage. It was exhausting to look at things from her point of view, which is why I said I couldn't relate to the characters, and I had to stop reading.

I just didn't understand why I couldn't relate to the characers when so many others seem to have loved the book. I'm way past the "picking the right partner stage" in my life, so I knew my age or experience wasn't the reason. Now that I know Katelyn is going to resolve her issues, and things I found so annoying about Katelyn (and others sometimes) were intentional, I might go back to reading the rest of the book.

I think it is great as a writer to be able to evoke so much emotions out of readers. I'm also grateful for an opportunity like this because otherwise I wouldn't have thought of giving another shot at the book and possibly missing out the great ending.
Thanks, L.B.

message 37: by LB (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Choco: What you say is interesting & here's one reason why.
When I read Kafka's The Metamorphosis, I hated it. Hated the whole concept, hated the character Samsa and even disliked all the family etc. I found the physical descriptions of the giant bug and his -- shall we say excrement etc -- just disgusting. And I responded in a similar way to his story The Burrow.
Yet ... Kafka is a great writer and I also see the literary value of his work. So I have a dual feeling about his works. Respect and ewwww.
So what does that mean? I think it means that literature occupies a space that is not necessarily designed to make us feel good but rather is supposed to make us think and assess. If a writer can also spin a good yarn, well, that's fabulous.
Some books are simply palliative. And some books work for a reader at a certain time in life and not at others.
I've read Dr. Zhivago five times. It's the only book that ever made me cry. It still resonates with me years after the last time I read it. And so does The Metamorphosis, only in a different way.

message 38: by Erika (new)

Erika (erikareading) L.B., Thank you for your explanation of the theme of equality in the book. I really did love that part, but was having trouble grasping for words on how to describe what you were doing there. I suppose feminism came to mind because it in itself is so focused on equality issues. I like your explanation and it makes so much more about the story click for me.

I love what you say here (5 minutes ago...ha ha!): "I think it means that literature occupies a space that is not necessarily designed to make us feel good but rather is supposed to make us think and assess. If a writer can also spin a good yarn, well, that's fabulous." That is one of the most important qualities of a book to me - to make me think and re-assess.

message 39: by LB (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Hi Everyone:
I wanted to add a little something. I'm reading Maragaret Atwood's The Year Of The Flood (been reading it for awhile while dipping into others as well.

Personally I do not relate to anyone in the book. And the apocalyptic view of the future pictured is pretty dismal. Yet ... what a great book. Besides her wonderful writing, the story seems so real, even though the reader knows from the start that it's this odd combination of science fiction, fantasy, and literature. Maybe that's what makes it so good.

I think just because a story has unbelievable or unsafe behaviors in it -- in The Naked Gardener going over the waterfalls for instance -- doesn't negate the message of the book or detract from its value for the reader.

message 40: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 714 comments While reading this I keep thinking about the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is dating the woman who walks around naked all the time. He discovers that some tasks, like naked hair brushing, are good while others, like naked bike repair, are bad. I can't help but think that naked root yanking would fall into the bad category but maybe naked pruning would be good?

message 41: by LB (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments I never saw that episode but I may look for it now. I agree with Jerry. Some things are better not done naked. But the women I know who garden naked swear by it. However, it is definitely not my cuppa tea. Too many biting bugs out there.
At our house (in the country), we do have an outdoor shower, however & that is simply delicious.

message 42: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 714 comments I finished this a few days ago but was having computer issues so I'm just getting here now. I did enjoy the story and I really like the idea of each character representing the different stages of a woman's life. The only issue I had (and this is why it's hard to participate in a discussion where the author is also present-sorry LB) was the way the whole thing came together so quickly-Katelyn and Erica are talking, the other women show up, they all go canoeing down the river, they're all best friends. I'm exaggerating a bit but that's kind of how it felt. I know women do tend to bond quickly especially during a crisis but it felt a little forced to me. I liked the concept-I just think it would have been a bit stronger if there was more time given to the development of the relationships between the characters.

message 43: by LB (new)

LB Gschwandtner (goodreadscomlb) | 10 comments Hi Everyone:
I want to say how much I enjoyed and appreciated all the comments from everyone, including those less enthusiastic than I would have wished. As an author, you want everyone to love your books. On the other hand, a scroll through the comments by readers on Goodreads or Amazon quickly shows that no matter what the book, not one is universally liked (or disliked).
Those of you who mentioned that you felt the relationships among the women in The Naked Gardener moved too fast, will, perhaps, feel more satisfied with the sequel, Trout River Falls, the story of how these six women save the town, while they face the obstacles life puts in their paths.
Thanks to Lori whose hard work made this possible for me. I wish you all good reading!

message 44: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10120 comments Mod
Thanks to you as well L.b. for making some copies of your novel available and for participating in a group read here.

I love seeing the authors and their readers talking about what they've read and written.

And you are correct, not every person is going to love the same book - but even the criticism makes for good discussion!

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