You don’t ordinarily think of a piece of land as a marriage counselor, but something of the sort comes to pass in Darlene Blasing’s charming novella, Bargain Paradise.
Her tale concerns a garden, a work in progress, and an initially novice gardener who also herself is a work in progress. And as the garden grows, it becomes a bit of a metaphor for the gardener’s established marriage, which likewise becomes a new work in progress.
Building the garden from scratch is Loretta who, after 19 years of the pipe and slippers routine, discovers a new horizon in the quiet excitement of watching sprouts push up from the leaf mold. She also re-discovers Purpose and Passion through the art of landscaping which she accomplishes with scrounged and rescued shrubs and flowers plants. And that’s not the only rescue.
This is one of those engaging stories that just comes to an end too quickly.
Scott Payne, author of A Corporal No More
A long dormant lioness opens one eyelid into the possibility of doing something for herself…I laughed out loud…Great lines.
Stephen Hoard, Cincinnati Writers Project
What is it about gardening that is so obsessive? I don’t know but, come spring, I can hardly wait to get my hands in the soil. Darlene Blasing captures this feeling perfectly in her lovely little novella, “Bargain Paradise”.
Her heroine, Loretta, starts out with a few plants she obtains for free from a construction site and sets off on a journey to create, from bare earth, a wondrous garden. She enlists the aid of her reluctant husband and together they transform not only the land they own, but the actual fabric of their lives.
Woven within her magical prose, Blasing also provides the reader much factual information about different plants that not only please the eyes but also nurture the soul. To call this sweet tale a ‘tour de force’ is not an exaggeration. Bravo, Ms. Blasing! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!
Linda Watkins, author of Mateguas Island
When is a story about a garden not about a garden?
This is a story about Loretta, a woman who solves her mid-life crisis by turning to gardening. Her obsession is so great, she easily draws husband and friends into her new passion. Aided by husband Jerry and an old pickup truck named Bluebell, she seeks out shrubs and flowers…to beautify forty acres… As her obsession unfolds, she sacrifices more and more to her dream.
Darlene Blasing writes of something she knows intimately. Even if the reader doesn’t know the difference between a rose and a lily, the author’s descriptive skill is so strong, the reader develops an intimate understanding of the garden and everything going into it to make it special.
But this story is about much more than gardening. Like layers of an onion, Blasing peels back one after another, skillfully drawing parallels between the garden and the lives of all who are involved. We watch spellbound as the garden transforms not only the land, but the very people who work it. This mystical garden is more about life than about flowers. The story, which ends too quickly, turns out to have been a love story. We walk away with not only a sense of beauty and fulfillment, but also a sense of rightness in a relationship that was transformed because they recognized the things that really matter.
It leaves me hoping we all find our own garden and the special person who will help us transform it into a Bargain Paradise.
Steve LeBel, author of Bernie and the Putty
Having known the emptiness, loneliness and frustration of being a gardener’s widow[er] all too well, Darlene Blasing’s novelette Bargain Paradise hits a little too close to home. Although I understand Jerry’s plight, I don’t have too much sympathy, his wife at least found an economical way of filling her passion.
Having had the pleasure of reading several pieces by Ms. Blasing I continue to marvel at the ease in which she pulls the reader into her stories. Subject matter that may not be your normal read becomes an effortless journey with characters you gladly invest your time with.
I can’t say that I necessarily agree with the outcome of this story, the answer to that will have to wait and see what blooms in the spring. Rest assured though, you will get caught up finding out.
H.William Ruback, author of Shadowpet
Creative, artistic gardening with limitless ideas become a spectacular vision of loveliness to be set on 40 acres of land. Author, Darlene Blasing, shows off her talents here as an experienced gardener, as well as a humorous author.
I loved the story because it was so true to married life. Looking ahead, I’ll be interested in seeing what Darlene Blasing will do next! She is a brilliant writer.
I give her 5 stars. * * * * *
Kittye Sharron, author of The Longest Letter: Incredible Hope