Tall Poppies Review: ‘Perennials’ Unfolds Beautifully

Perennials Julie CantrellJulie Cantrell has long been one of my favorite authors, a writer whose pages I know I can turn to for stunning language, heartfelt stories and flawless character development. Her latest, Perennials, is no exception, and I found myself completely invested from the very first page.

Lovey Sutherland’s Arizona life, complete with her successful career as an advertising executive, her centering yoga routine and her supportive, loving friends, is, on the surface, what she has always wanted. Free from the past she left behind in her hometown of Oxford, Mississippi—and the blame she faced when a fire in her childhood, perceived to be her fault, changed everything—in many ways Lovey has created the future she has always imagined.

Even still, as her forty-fifth birthday approaches, Lovey can’t seem to heal her broken relationship with her golden child of a sister, escape the blame she still thinks her parents and her town place on her for that long-ago tragedy or forget the marriage proposal she turned down and the man she left behind. When her father begs her to come back home for three weeks for a 50th anniversary surprise for her mother, Lovey initially says no. With all she has going on at work, not to mention the scrutiny she is sure to face from her sister and her town, it’s a risk Lovey isn’t willing to take. But when her father reminds her that it’s “family first,” Lovey realizes that this is something she owes to the people she loves most even if they haven’t always extended her the same courtesy. She puts her life on hold to help her father with a secret project—a beautiful and sentimental garden that contains relics of the most memorable parts of he and her mother’s fifty years together. Lovey rediscovers some of the best parts of her childhood, finally gets some of the answers she seeks and discovers that perhaps it isn’t too late for true love, love like her parents have, to find her once again.

With languid prose and vivid description Julie Cantrell’s novel unfolds as beautifully as one of her protagonist’s favorite flowers. Cantrell weaves moving and inspirational stories that make her one of today’s most beloved storytellers. Perennials may be her most breathtaking yet.

Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist and TEDx presenter. Her debut novel, Into the Free, earned a starred review by Publishers Weekly, the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award, and the Christy Award Book of the Year. It also was named a Best Read of 2012 by USA TODAY, while becoming an international bestseller. The sequel, When Mountains Move, was named a 2013 Best Read by USA TODAY and winner of the Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, was selected as an Okra Pick by SIBA and Book of the Year by Pulpwood Queens. A short-list finalist for the Southern Book Prize and a winner of the Carol Award for Contemporary Fiction, it earned a starred review by Library Journal who also named it a Best Book of 2016. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Perennials is her fourth novel. Learn more: www.juliecantrell.com.

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