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Winter Bloom

Winter Bloom

4.0 15
by Tara Heavey

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There would be tunnels of roses, beds of strawberries, fountains of overflowing herbs. And there might even be love. . . .

In the heart of bustling modern Dublin is a littered, overgrown garden of tangled weeds and a stagnant, hidden pond. Belonging to an iron-willed elderly lady named Mrs. Prendergast, who is rumored to have murdered and buried her


There would be tunnels of roses, beds of strawberries, fountains of overflowing herbs. And there might even be love. . . .

In the heart of bustling modern Dublin is a littered, overgrown garden of tangled weeds and a stagnant, hidden pond. Belonging to an iron-willed elderly lady named Mrs. Prendergast, who is rumored to have murdered and buried her husband there, the garden draws Eva Madigan, a young mother struggling to move on from the pain of her past. Eva is joined by Emily, a beautiful but withdrawn college dropout; Uri, an old-world immigrant; Seth, his all-too-handsome son; and occasionally even Mrs. Prendergast herself. But what drives Eva to transform the neglected urban wilderness? What makes the others want to help her? Even as Mrs. Prendergast puts the land up for sale, the thorny lives of all the gardeners are revealed and slowly start to untangle. Overgrown secrets are dug up and shared. Choices are made; a little pruning is in order. Now Eva is about to discover that every garden is a story of growth toward a final harvest. . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Struggling with widowed motherhood, Eva Madigan comes across an overgrown walled garden that immediately captures her imagination. Thinking it might help her heal, she asks the owner, Myrtle Prendergast, if she can bring it back to life. But since Eva knows nothing about gardening, this is easier said than done. Hoping to find help, she solicits her Dublin community and meets Uri, an old Jewish man with a painful past; his son Seth, recovering from a failed marriage; and Emily, a young woman concealing, for the moment, her own troubles. As expected, they find common ground and a sense of healing in the garden, at least until Mrs. Prendergast's son arrives intent on selling. Heavey's newest is a by-the-numbers tale of redemption with the requisite infidelities, heartaches, and abuses, laying a less-than-fertile ground for genre readers. The metaphor of nature as a path to healing is made too obvious and the Dublin backdrop doesn't provide anything unique. Genre fans won't find much that they haven't read many times before. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Originally published in Ireland as Sowing the Seeds of Love, this latest novel from Heavey (Where the Love Gets In) finds Eva mourning the recent sudden death of her husband and baby daughter and doing her best to settle her four-year-old son into a new life in Dublin. Reaching a somewhat strained and tenuous agreement with her darkly mysterious neighbor Mrs. Prendergast, Eva is allowed use of a walled garden that she intends to resurrect as a community project. Joining her in her in the effort are Emily, a college-aged young woman who keeps to herself but slowly reveals her sadness; Uri, a meticulously dressed older man with a painful past but knowledge to share; and Uri's son, Seth, a gardener just out of a confusing marriage with a four-year-old child of his own. The group revives the dormant garden (though a conflict about the land and inheritance causes some minor tension) in much the same way they each piece together their broken lives: individually and communally.Verdict Somewhat formulaic, though not without its charms, this is a good fit for fans of Marian Keyes and Katie Fforde.—Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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IT WAS A sunny, Saturday morning of freedom. The sky shone ice blue. Liam skipped alongside Eva, his entire body grinning up at her. She looked back down at her son, crimson scarf wrapped several times around his scrawny, little neck, and couldn’t help but smile. It was that kind of day and Liam was that kind of boy. His childish antennae seemed to be tuning in to her newfound sense of optimism. It felt good, this feeling. The first time she’d felt it in she didn’t know how long. Certainly not since moving to Dublin.

The move had been tougher than she would ever have anticipated or would ever admit. She put on the bright smile, the happy voice when she spoke to her mother on the phone. But there were times when the isolation threatened to overwhelm her. It was as if she were looking at the world from behind glass.

Her neighbors seemed impossible to get to know. She barely even saw them, barricaded as they all were behind their individual front doors. Maybe it was just the wrong time of year—late October—dark evenings, autumn electricity in the air.

But today. There was something different about today.

Today felt like hope.

“Here we are.”

She stopped and dragged Liam to a halt beside her.

“This isn’t the sweets shop.”

“It’s a different type of sweets shop. A very special one.”

This pacified him and he allowed himself to be led into the shady interior. The lady behind the counter gave Eva a nod of recognition and her heart rose even higher.

The shop was like something you might expect to find in the old town of Barcelona. The type of store you might stumble across by accident, having become lost down a series of narrow, winding streets. You might have missed it if you hadn’t had to leap out of the path of a manic young Catalan on his moped. And what you would have missed. It certainly wasn’t the type of place Eva would have expected to find on the outskirts of the city center. But each day she was discovering anew how much Dublin had changed since her childhood visits. How much of the heart had been ripped out of the city. Timeless Georgian buildings knocked down to make way for fast-food outlets and coffee-shop chains. Faceless plate glass where graceful archways and doorways had once looked out.


This, at least, was a positive change.

It was a treasure trove of goodies. They had gourmet sausages, artisanal biscuits, organic salmon, farmyard cheeses, handcrafted chocolates, homemade preserves, and luxury shortbread.

Her mother would love an Irish porter cake. Together with an Irish breakfast tea in a presentation caddy. She herself wouldn’t mind the strawberries in Belgian chocolate. She could feel herself starting to salivate.

And then there were the sweets. Jar upon jar and row upon row of nostalgia: gobstoppers, bon bons, apple sours, licorice laces, chocolate mice, iced caramels, bulls-eyes, aniseed balls, flying saucers, pear drops, striped humbugs, butter humbugs, clove rocks.

The only thing missing was candy cigarettes. Presumably now illegal.

Liam’s mouth was agape.

“Can I have whatever I want?”

“Tell me what you want first. You can have five things.”

“Only five! I want—”

“Do you want the sweets or not?”

“Yes, I do.”

Liam clung to the back of Eva’s leg and twisted himself from one foot to the other.

“Those ones.”

He pointed decisively at the chocolate mice.

“Just them. Nothing else?”

He nodded vigorously and held up his palm, fingers outstretched.


“Five what?”

“Five mouses.”

“Five mouses what?”


One other customer stood between them and the counter. An older woman, perhaps seventy. Eva couldn’t help noticing how well groomed she was. Such elegance. Such coordination. She looked down at her own navy fleece and jeans and felt ashamed. The woman was buying Earl Grey tea and fancy biscuits. How fitting. She examined the woman’s face in profile. Her skin was like rice paper but her jawline barely sagged. “Well preserved” was how Eva’s father would have described her. The woman completed her purchase and left the shop, whereupon the lady behind the counter turned her attention to Eva. The look she gave her was mischievous. Like a kid with a secret. She leaned forward ever so slightly.

“You’d never guess she’d murdered her own husband.”

“Pardon?” Perhaps she’d misheard.

The woman inclined her head toward the exit door.

“Mrs. Prendergast. You’d never guess.”

“You mean that old woman who was just in here now.”

“That’s the one.”

“You mean she was convicted and everything?”

“Well, no.” Here the story started to flounder. “They never found the body. If you don’t have a body, you can’t have a trial, apparently. But everyone around here knows that she did it.”

“How do they know?”

“Well. There’s that garden of hers for a start. Hasn’t been touched since the day he disappeared thirty years ago. That gate was padlocked and it hasn’t been opened since.”

Eva laughed. “I’d hardly call that proof.”

The other woman’s face closed down and Eva regretted her words. She’d been enjoying this impromptu conversation.

“What can I get you?” The woman was suddenly businesslike.

“I’ll have five chocolate mice, please. And two flying saucers for old time’s sake.”

THAT NIGHT, LIAM couldn’t sleep, so she let him into her bed. She knew she shouldn’t and that it was setting a bad precedent. But a large part of her didn’t care. The part that was empty and lonely and homeless. She needed the closeness as much as he did.

Although there was an entire double bed in which to expand, Liam’s sleeping body invariably gravitated toward hers. She was lying on her back, staring into the dark, when:


She’d thought he was asleep.

“Yes, Liam.”

“If Daddy was still here, would I be allowed into your bed?”

“Of course you would. Don’t you remember coming into bed with me and Daddy? When you had a bad dream or when you were sick?”


“Well, you did. All the time.”


They were quiet for a while.

“Night night, Mummy.”

“Night night, Liam.”

A few breaths later he was asleep. His knees sticking into her lower back. As if he were trying to burrow back into her womb.

© 2010 Tara Heavey

Meet the Author

Tara Heavey was born in London, where she was raised until moving to Dublin at the age of 12. A former lawyer, she is currently a full-time author who lives in Dublin with her family.

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Winter Bloom 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Dublin, widow Eva Madigan barely copes with raising her four years old son Liam by herself. When she finds a garden overrun by weeds, she believes it is symbolic of her own emotional state. She asks garden owner elderly Myrtle Prendergast if she can work on the garden though she is ignorant when it comes to gardening. Having received surprising approval from Myrtle, who allegedly killed and buried her spouse in her garden three decades ago, Eva seeks help. She meets Holocaust survivor Uri, his divorced son Seth, and too serene Emily. As the garden recovers its beauty, the quartet and Myrtle mentally heal. That is until Mrs. Prendergast's adult son insists on selling the property; devastating the gardeners. Although Winter Bloom does not add anything new to the mental healing by gardening (for instance, the classic The Secret Garden and Sue Minter's nonfiction Healing Garden series), this is an entertaining tale of five people finding solace with the urban garden they cultivate. Each of the prime quintet comes across as real people with emotional issues crippling them in different ways. As the garden blooms so do they in Tara Heavey's enjoyable contemporary. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read yiu wont be sorry if u buy
JacksonvilleReader More than 1 year ago
"Winter Bloom" captured me in the first chapter. This is a wonderful story and told in such a way to hold the reader's attention. Ms. Heavey took time to develop the characters and settings without being overly complicated or simple. This is one of those books that you can't put down, but don't want to rush for fear of finishing too soon. I hope Ms. Heavey brings us more of the same very soon.
gincam More than 1 year ago
Just as the garden of "Winter Bloom" is lovingly and skillfully brought back to life, so are the lives of the characters revived and renewed. Tara Heavey tells the story of five people who work together toward a common goal and discover much about themselves and each other along the way. When young widowed mother Eva Madigan spies the sadly neglected walled garden of the elderly Mrs. Prendergast, she is struck by the desire to restore the wasted space to its former glory. It takes some convincing, and Mrs. Prendergast warns her that the garden is meant to be sold, but Eva is given permission for her project. She places an ad at the grocer for help with a community garden, and only two people respond to the ad: Uri, a distinguished older gentleman, and Emily, the clerk from the grocer. Soon they are joined by Uri's son Seth, and after a time, even Mrs. Prendergast begins to help with the work. Each of the gardeners has been touched by tragedy, and their individual stories are woven throughout the telling of the restoration. Uri, a tailor by trade, was taught much by his own father, who was a master gardener. Seth, who inherited his love of cultivating the soil from his father and grandfather, has his own landscaping business. Emily, stuck in her clerk's job, longs to further her education and move on with her life. Mrs. Prendergast, a lady of impeccable social grace, is nonetheless rumored to have killed her husband and buried him somewhere in the garden. It is her greedy, needy son, Lance, who is pressuring her to sell the land. Eva's husband took their baby daughter for a drive to settle her crying, and they were both killed in a terrible accident. Eva was left to care for their young son, Liam, and to manage her survivor guilt. These are remarkable people, trying their best to live "ordinary" lives. I was touched by their heartaches, and I celebrated with them their joys. Their shared experience was an affirmation of life, not only for the characters, but also for the reader. I will definitely read more work by the wonderful storyteller, Tara Heavey! Review Copy Gratis Simon & Schuster
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PeaceAndGoodReads More than 1 year ago
Tara Heavey had a wonderful story to tell and in her first work, Winter Bloom, that story came to life in brilliant fashion. The tale about tragedy, love, loss and redemption all started in the overgrown, neglected walled garden that belongs to the mysterious Mrs Pendergrast. Eva, a recent widow and now single mom to young Liam has set out to start her life over in Dublin. Unknown forces attracted her to the walled garden and she sets out on a mission to rehabilitate the old property. After gaining permission from the rigid Mrs. Pendergrast she puts up a notice at the local grocery store for asking for volunteers. Two people show up. An older, reserved and worldly gentleman, Uri, a tailor by trade who has some gardening expertise and Emily, a young, flighty college student who seems to be carrying a heavy burden. After the three break ground in the garden, Uri's son Seth, a professional gardener and recently divorced with a young daughter (Liam's age)joins the group. The story begins with the garden, but as we venture further into the story we begin to learn more about the history of each character and what paths have led them to intersect with each other at this moment in time. A wonderful story that is delicately and lovingly weaved by the author. The story is as enchanting as the garden itself. It is full of hope, inspiration and a great read for anyone who wants to invest themselves in a great story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Justsooze More than 1 year ago
Curl up in a comfortable chair and enjoy this novel of hope and friendship, set in Dublin, Ireland. Eve and her young son Liam are struggling to make a home for themselves in Dublin. A glimpse inside an abandoned walled garden inspires Eve with a desire to bring it back to life. When she convinces the owner, the mysterious recluse Mrs. Prendergast to let her work in the garden and finds other volunteers to help, her life is changed more than she could imagine. As the garden is brought back to life, relationships blossom as well. This was a very enjoyable story with interesting characters.
TLeopard More than 1 year ago
Great writing. Interesting characters. Liked all of them, until about half way through when I stopped liking the main character. Didn't finish the book because of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elijian_11120707 More than 1 year ago
Oh dear, where do I start? This was an engaging tale of five characters who suddenly find their lives intertwined. Each has a story of how they got to the point where they are at in Mrs. Prendergast's garden. Each character has a burden they have been carrying and it is so wonderful to see how they shed their weight and how their individual stories finished when they all come together in the end. Eva, Emily, Seth, Uri and Mrs. Prendergast are such remarkable characters that you can not only visualize, but feel throughout the story through their tales of tragedy and triumph. You will be wondering the final outcomes as you read through the book and will be eager to get to the end. I loved, loved, loved, this book and couldn't put it down. A truly remarkable book that was well written with a lovely balance of laughter and tears. Bravo to Heavey on a modern day treasure.
ParisMaddy More than 1 year ago
Eva Madigan and her young son Liam move to Dublin after the unexpected and tragic death of her husband and son. Once settled Eva hears gossip about an old lady named Mrs. Prendergast who supposedly murdered her husband. Local lore seems to think Mrs. Prendergast buried him in her overgrown garden near a murky pond. Apparently the husband hasn't been seen in some time. As a self prescribed remedy, Eva approaches Mrs. Myrtle Prendergast about tending to her overgrown garden and bringing it back to its former glory. Eva posts an ad for garden helpers and Uri, a Holocaust survivor, his handsome son Seth, and Emily, a college student, eventually join with her. As can be assumed, the garden grows and so do the characters. I would have liked for the author to build in a bit more suspense surrounding the missing husband. We read about the gossip early in the story then nothing else, really, until the ending after the garden is complete. Also, Uri has a deep and moving tale to tell but its relegated to a few pages and comes at a point in the story where the story was basically, and predictably, nearly over. The other flaw was the explanation of the last time Myrtle saw Martin. Without ruining the story, it just didn't seem plausible given the condition Martin was in, the size differences between the man and woman, and the fragility of the wife. A simple story, no real surprises, but an easy, and enjoyable, 1 or 2 hour read.
NovelChatter More than 1 year ago
When Eva Madigan entered a neighborhood sweet shop with Liam on a sunny Saturday in October she finally felt there was hope. Something was different. The young widow and her four year old son were new to Dublin, and Eva was having a hard time getting to know people, having a hard time finding a place in the world. Then a chance encounter with mysterious old Mrs. Prendergast (whom gossips suspect murdered her husband and buried him the garden) led Eva to that long abandoned Prendergast garden and a disjointed group of people. Their lives would be forever changed by answering Eva's blind request for help to work in a community garden. Mrs. Prendergast's garden brought together people of all ages and backgrounds. Their only commonality was their love of gardens. Making up the rag-tag group are Uri, a Holocaust survivor and his divorced son Seth, a mysterious young college-aged Emily with a secret of her own, and the sad Eva. As they struggle to reclaim the garden from years of neglect, friendships are made, secrets are shared, and lives are entwined. All is lovely in the garden until one day Lance, Mrs. Prendergast's son, shows up demanding that the garden be sold. Author Tara Heavey's Winter Bloom is a well written, engaging story of loss and our fight for survival by adapting to the things that are beyond our control. I normally don't review cover art, but I believe this book deserves a different cover. No offense to the designer but this is not a light "chick lit" book. It's a study of the human sou,l and I think it should have a less "chick lit-ish" fluffy cover. I highly recommend Winter Bloom and am purposefully being vague about the plot so that as so the secrets and stories unfold, and I won't want ruin your read. Get it, enjoy it, share it. Tara Heavey was born in London and moved to Dublin at the age of 12. A former lawyer, she is currently a full-time author who lives in Dublin with her family. Source: This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected my review.