MY REVIEW:

“Perennials” is a beautifully written novel set in Oxford, Mississippi. Cantrell’s writing is a lush as the gardens she describes and her characters are well-rounded and realistic. I found myself relating to Eva to the point that I wanted to jump in and defend her against her hateful sister.

I experienced many emotions as I read this often poignant novel. I found it difficult to understand why Eva’s sister had turned on her the way she did and how she could continue in her lies for so many years. It was gratifying to watch Eva make peace with the past and offer forgiveness to her sister. I also loved that Eva found a second chance at her lost love. What could be happier than that?

Julie Cantrell is a talented author who somehow plumbs the depths of the human experience and emotions. I would recommend “Perennials” to anyone who enjoys a deeper reading experience than the usual contemporary romance novel.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Amazon Vine. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, MS, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything . . . especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.

Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. The perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.

At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.

In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.

When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.

Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo Credit: Andrew McNeece

Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist whose work focuses on relationships, resilience, and faith. As a writer, speaker, TEDx presenter, and teacher, she aims to build empathy and connection while inspiring others to live their best life.

Julie served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and has received the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship as well as the Rivendell Writer’s Colony Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship.

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP), Julie is a literacy advocate who previously served on the board of her local literacy council. Dedicated to helping children overcome social, academic, and communication challenges, Julie has filled various gaps when called to serve her local public school system as an SLP, a reading interventionist, an ELL tutor, and a special education sub.

Julie also spent six years operating her family’s sustainable farm where she tended organic crops while caring for a wide variety of furry and feathered friends. She is a certified naturalist who enjoys exploring this beautiful world. Additionally, she has operated a freelance writing business for almost twenty years.

Today, Julie writes fulltime from her home in Oxford, Mississippi. Perennials is her fourth novel.