Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Lemons in the Garden of Love: A Novel by Ames Sheldon

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book:

Award-winning author weaves tales of 1st and 2nd wave feminism into a compelling, essential read

“[A] relatable and emotional saga” – BookLife, by Publishers’ Weekly

Minneapolis, Minnesota–After Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing in September, social media instantly flooded with posts mourning and honoring Ginsberg’s life and legacy. Yet the newly vacant Supreme Court seat also caused concern, with many women wondering if, how, and when their access to birth control would be impacted. At a time when reproductive rights are still being contested across the country, novels like “Lemons in the Garden of Love” (She Writes Press, May 11, 2021) should be required reading. 

In “Lemons in the Garden,” it’s 1977 and Cassie Lyman, a graduate student in women’s history, is struggling to find a topic for her doctoral dissertation. When she discovers a trove of drawings, suffrage cartoons, letters, and diaries at Smith College belonging to Kate Easton, founder of the Birth Control League of Massachusetts in 1916, she believes she has located her subject.

Digging deeper into Kate’s life, Cassie learns that she and Kate are related―closely. Driven to understand why her family has never spoken of Kate, Cassie travels to Cape Ann to attend her sister’s shotgun wedding, where she questions her relatives about Kate―only to find herself soon afterward in the same challenging situation Kate faced.

A moving portrait of two women, whose stories shed light on the life-changing power of the ability to determine one’s reproductive future.

my thoughts:

Wow. What a story! I absolutely LOVED Ames Sheldon's novel, Lemons in the Garden of Love. It was fantastic!

Cassie is a grad student in 1977, working on her dissertation for her PhD.  Or, I should say, struggling to work on her dissertation, since she can't seem to come up with the right topic. Luckily, she discovers diaries, letters, and a connection to Kate Easton - the founder of the Birth Control League in Massachusetts in 1916.  Could Easton be what her dissertation was missing? Determined to find out more about her great aunt (yep, Easton is Cassie's relative), Cassie decides to ask her family all about her.  She gets the chance when she heads home to attend her sister's wedding. Of course, the more she digs, the more she begins to realize just how similar she and her great-aunt are. 

Sheldon has created a great cast of fascinating characters who are relatable, inspiring, and unlikeable - basically, they run the gamut. You can't help but want to learn more about them. As for the story itself, let me just say it was unputdownable. I enjoyed getting to know Kate through Cassie's eyes, and her own diaries and letters. I just loved reading about the suffragettes and the birth control movement - talk about important issues that we need to read/learn more about. Lemons in the Garden Love captured family drama, relationship drama, and historical movements with such ease and vividness  - I just LOVED reading all about it. 

I would happily recommend Lemons in the Garden of Love to fans of Sheldon and to anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

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