Monday, June 23, 2014

Gardenias For Breakfast

Gardenias For Breakfast is a change of pace for author Robin Jones Gunn.  You may know her from her "Sisterchicks" series of books.  This novel is a break from the typical story of grown-up girlfriends and their adventures, which Robin writes well.  It is the story of a cross-country trek to Louisiana with Abby and her daughter Hannah, staying with relatives all along the way.  That should be enough to wear you out, in itself.  It comes with it's share of relative awkwardness, the result of old issues that Abby thought she had put to rest.  Grand Lady is the family matriarch and Abby has a lifetime memory of one magical summer spent with her. Abby was 12 yrs. old when her mother sent her there. Her father was dying and her mom did not want her to be in the house with all the grief hanging over it.  She hopes that Hannah will find that same magic in the week that they spend there, as she found in her grandmother's house as a child.  When Abby arrives this time, she finds the house not as big as she remembers it and the town sleepier and smaller than she recalls.  She begins to think you can't go home again, or, in this case, back to Grandma's again!  Grand Lady is not as grand as she remembers, but still a wonderful grandmother.  Hannah does not make an immediate connection with Grand Lady and this is a source of disappointment for Abby.  Hannah did make a connection with Abby's mother, whom they stayed with on the way to Louisiana.  Abby is estranged from her mother and she wonders that her daughter feels a connection to her.  As it happens, Hannah and her grandma share a love of art, and a talent for painting, which makes them friends from the start.
As the week goes by, Abby confronts her past and finds answers to long held questions, mostly through her interaction with her aunt and uncle and with Grand Lady, herself.  It is all about finding your story.  Grand Lady tells her that her story will come find her when the time is right.  It does, and Hannah also has a beginning to her story with this visit.  This is a story of the love and complications that sometimes plague a mother and her relationship with her daughter.  I enjoyed reading this and appreciated Ms. Gunn's insight into the relationships that form our views on female interactions in a family.  I give it four stars.

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