Monday, September 12, 2011

Review ~ The First Gardner by Denise Hildreth Jones

About the Book

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 sending their precious daughter, Maddie, off to kindergarten—when a 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, Jeremiah realizes that his gift of gardening is about far more than pulling weeds and planting flowers. It’s about tending hearts as well. As he uses the tools that have been placed in his hands, he gently begins to cultivate the hard soil of Mackenzie’s heart, hoping to help her realize what it took him years to discover.

A Southern tale of loss, love, and living, The First Gardner reminds us that all of life is a gift, but our heart is the most valuable gift of all.

About the Author

Denise Hildreth’s novels have moved her readers to tears and laughter as they stay up all night just to finish the last page. “I’m just a southern girl from South Carolina who knows crazy people, the south, and rigged beauty pageants. So, I thought I’d write a book about them. I didn’t even know I could write fiction. Come to find out people have fallen in love with that crazy Savannah from Savannah and I’ve fallen in love with telling stories.”

Denise has found a passion for people who are hurting. “I know what it is to hurt. I’ve walked through some of life’s darkest storms, but God has been such a faithful companion. I have one desire, to walk with people as they are set free from their condition and learn to walk in their position.” Denise’s powerful teaching leaves the hearts of the listeners challenged and changed.

Her books have the same impact. Though her books have received awards and accolades, the letters Denise receives from readers mean the most to her. “I know that I am doing what I was created to do when I get that letter that says, ‘After reading your book, Flies on the Butter, I knew I had to make things right with my mother.’ Everyday I thank the Lord that I am able to do what I love. I don’t take one day for granted. Nor do I take the hearts of people for granted.”

To learn more about Denise and her ministry go to her website, Denise Hildreth Jones.

My Review

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 going to happen. That being said, it took awhile for events to unfold and in that time my anger began to build toward Mackenzie. I thought she was too indulgent and that was going to be trouble. Basically, I was blaming her ahead of time for what I knew was going to happen. Yep. It did. Can you tell I'm involved in this book yet?!

What I ignored, in my humanity, is that God is the One in control! There is nothing we can do to thwart God's plan but when tragedy strikes we must not play the blame game (even toward ourselves) because there is no one to blame. God holds all things in His capable hands and He is the One we must lean on in our darkest hour!

Of course Mackenzie's husband, the governor, and her mom play important rolls in the book but Jeremiah, The First Gardner, is the one I fell in love with. He's an old man with a heart of gold! I only wish I had a tenth of the servant heart and green thumb that he does. His quiet strength, unwavering love and wisdom are treasures that make this book shine. Oh, that we all could have a Jeremiah in our lives!

Bravo Denise!!! I highly recommend this book to everyone! It is a must read from this reviewers point of view whether you like contemporary fiction or not. You won't be disappointed. You might laugh, and cry, and get mad but you'll come out the better for it! I fully intend on reading it again. The only thing that could have possibly made it better is if those lovely orchids on the cover had been embossed :)

I want to thank Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Sorry, y'all! This one is too good to give away but you can purchase your own copy from any of the following:



  1. I am a HUGE fan of Denise Hildreth (now Jones, LOL I have to get used to that)! I have read everything by her (except one - Hurricanes in Paradise, which I do own, so its just a matter of time). She 9is an excellent writer and has great character development!
    My favorite book by her was - The Will of Wisteria, bit I also loved the Savannah series.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm glad I came to check you out!

  2. Hi Wendy! If her other books are any where near the caliber of this one I will love them. Thanks for coming by & commenting, and following :)


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