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Guest post: Liza Gyllenhaal

September 23, 2011

Liza Gyllenhaal is the author of the newly released book, So Near, which is getting rave reviews.  I’m really excited that she took the time to write a guest post for me and I’m looking forward to reading her book.

My fictional garden

My husband and I have owned a weekend cottage in Western Massachusetts for nearly twenty years. We spend about half our time there, commuting back and forth from New York City.  Our place is close to a small town that still retains a lovely New England rural feel, though a good percentage of its population are second-home owners like ourselves.

Almost from the moment we bought the place, I started to garden.  I was truly a novice then and made many mistakes, but over the years I’ve taught myself a lot.  Similar to writing, gardening is always a work in progress.  Just as I’m constantly rewriting and reworking my fiction, I keep rethinking, replanting, and revising my garden.

When I started work on my new novel So Near I decided I wanted to combine these two things I love to do — and actually write about gardening. In the novel, gardening becomes the backdrop — and in many ways a metaphor  — for the long, difficult journey that we face when we lose someone we love. As the story develops, my character Jenny, who loses her baby daughter in a car accident, will cede rights to her garden —allowing someone else to redesign it for her — cutting herself off from the very thing that would have given her some consolation and hope.

Later in the book she’ll rethink that decision: “For the first time I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake. What had I done—letting someone else take over and complete almost overnight a job that I had intended to work on for the rest of my life? I began to worry that I’d traded something important—maybe even essential—in my hunger to find some kind of solace.”

In fact, I think there are few things more comforting than digging into the earth, uprooting weeds, pruning back shrubs, and planting bulbs.  It was a real pleasure writing about gardening in So Near.  In many ways, the garden became another character for me, and I can still visualize that fictional garden I created as clearly as I see my own.

About So Near:

From the author of Local Knowledge comes a poignant novel about a young couple’s road back from tragedy.

In the aftermath of a devastating loss, Cal and Jenny Horigan’s marriage is unraveling. Both are plagued by guilt, unable to seek comfort from one another. Burdened by remorse, they begin to lose sight of the love that once anchored them-together with their sense of right and wrong.

As the Horigans try different ways to deal with their pain, a new acquaintance seems to offer the support they desperately need-though at times they are unsure whether his guidance is leading them back to each other or further apart…

17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2011 5:39 am

    I thought the name was familliar, I have seen your book around 🙂

  2. September 23, 2011 6:37 am

    Love the guest post! This one is on my wish list, it sounds like a great read.

  3. September 23, 2011 7:36 am

    I just love the cover of the book! And it sounds really good, too. 😉

  4. September 23, 2011 7:53 am

    This is a lovely post! I’ve been hearing good things about this book though it’s overall being claimed as very emotionally hard.

  5. Veens permalink
    September 23, 2011 9:01 am

    Love this post. I know a whole lot of people who think gardening helps them rewind, de-stress and get everything in perspective 🙂 I think I should try 🙂

    I love the quote that the author quotes –
    “For the first time I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake. What had I done—letting someone else take over and complete almost overnight a job that I had intended to work on for the rest of my life? I began to worry that I’d traded something important—maybe even essential—in my hunger to find some kind of solace.”

  6. September 23, 2011 9:02 am

    I loved this post, and have always admired those with a green thumb. I am not a gardener, and have never been able to even keep a plant alive for very long. It sounds like her cottage is a great place.

  7. September 23, 2011 11:06 am

    Gardening is my therapy. Mine is always a work in progress. But each year it grows and gets nicer. Sounds like a book I’d like… or at least relate to.

  8. September 23, 2011 3:19 pm

    I enjoyed this guest post and I think it especially meant something to me because I saw it in relation to the novel.

  9. September 23, 2011 3:20 pm

    Thanks, everyone, for your enthusiastic response to my guest post. I hope you’ll give SO NEAR a try —if you do, please let me know what you think! This is a terrific blog — and I’ve just signed up. Liza

  10. September 23, 2011 3:40 pm

    I just bought this book because it just sounded so yummy!!!

    Thank you for sharing!!!

  11. September 23, 2011 4:17 pm

    I love that she combined something she enjoys in real life with her novel writing. Its great when two passions can come together. Thanks for the guest post.

  12. September 23, 2011 8:17 pm

    Fabulous guest post! I love how the author used her experience with gardening as a major element in the book!

  13. September 23, 2011 9:38 pm

    Love the post but there is no way I could read this story with where I am in life right now!

  14. September 24, 2011 6:28 am

    Great guest post. There really is something healing about working in the garden and nurturing your plands.

  15. September 24, 2011 7:31 am

    Sounds lovely! I’m not much of a gardener myself but the fruits of other’s labor certainly goes a long way to brightening a day.

  16. Staci permalink
    September 25, 2011 4:17 pm

    Great guest post. I read and really liked her book. Now I understand one of her characters much better 🙂

  17. September 25, 2011 7:10 pm

    I really enjoyed this post and its author’s reflection on So Near. I agree the cover is amazing.

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