Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick
WaterBrook Press ISBN 978-1-4000-7430-3
Hulda Klager wanted a crisper apple so that she could make a better pie. In time, she developed this apple and so much more. Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, Where Lilacs Still Bloom, is based on Mrs. Klager’s life. The prologue introduces the reader to Hulda in 1948 as she is watching flood waters destroy what she has worked tirelessly and passionately to create. The following chapters read like journal entries. The first chapter, as well as many of the others, is in Hulda’s voice . She moved from Germany to Wisconsin as a child . The story opens in 1889 and Hulda is married. The family has moved to Woodland, Washington. Hulda and Frank have four children. Even though truly devoted to her family , she is able to find time to develop her incredible horticultural talents. The entire family, as well as a host of others worked in her garden and their stories are told as well. Indoor plumbing, running water, electricity didn’t come until later in her life, but this didn’t stand in the way of her progress. She went from hybridizing apples to hybridizing lilacs. She hand pollenated the lilacs which led to over 200 varieties. Her intention was not so much to change things but to create and to make things better.
This is more than a story of apples and lilacs. Hulda lived in a time when a woman’s role was clearly defined. She wanted more and with the support of her loving family, and those members of the community that also became part of her family, she was able to achieve her goals. Over time her husband became her biggest supporter. Together they endured multiple tragedies . In part, tending the gardens brought some comfort. This is also a story of generosity. Hulda had numerous opportunities to sell her cuttings- Frank would have welcomed the additional income. She struggled with this. She just wanted to share them with others.
Where Lilacs Still Bloom is skillfully written and populated with richly developed characters . The author provides insight into what most find important: generosity, commitment, tolerance and the gift of tactfulness. This is an easy book to read and it is filled with important lessons on what matters. Now that I have read this book, I will always think of Hulda Klager whenever I see a lilac. I received this book for free from Water Brook Multomah Publishing Group for this review.