Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick (ISBN 9781400074303)

For years, since moving to the NW in 1983, I’ve wanted to visit Hulda Klager’s Lilac Gardens in Woodland, WA.  Every year something else has taken precedence over the trip up I-5 in spring.
I’m so grateful to Jane Kirkpatrick for at least bringing Hulda and her love of flowers to my family room and reading chair.   Once again, Kirkpatrick brings her characters to life not only with her words but visual imagery and heart.

Hulda Klager, of German descent as is my husband, shows a stubborn streak which is all too real to me.   Her determination and passion for her flowers, especially the propagation of lilacs, jumps from the page.  One can almost smell the heady scent of their blossoms.

Spurred on by her father’s encouragement, Hulda counters the standard of the day for women and dabbles in things scientific.  Yet, she never loses sight of her faith in God, and in a conversation with her older sister, Bertha, she speaks of “living things” in a touching and spiritual manner:

“Living things offer solace, Bertha.  I can’t remove the poverty of the Smith children, though I try, I do.  Frank and I support the deacon’s fund.  But when I brought Mrs. Smith fresh-picked vegetables last summer and included a bouquet of my lilacs, it was the flowers she went to first.  She inhaled their scent, and for a moment as she buried her face in them, I think she forgot about the misery of her drinking husband and the rags on her children.  She needed a moment to gain strength from those petals to face her life as it is.  A moment of joy is no small thing to give another.”  (p. 79)

Faced with many difficulties in her own life and questions raised about her propagation and experiments, Hulda remains strong throughout.  She never loses sight of God’s presence in her day-to-day living and reminds us all in her story that good times will follow the difficult if we stay strong in Him.

One last quote from the book which resonated with me as indicative of Hulda Klager’s philosophy of life:

“[L]ife is worthwhile when it holds some beauty.  It needn’t be flowers.  It can be helping other people–that’s beautiful.”  (p. 356)

A long-time fan of Jane Kirkpatrick’s writing, Where the Lilacs Still Bloom did not disappoint.  As always, Kirkpatrick’s references to history are correct and her plot and character development leaves the reader with a wish to keep turning the pages.  Of all her books written about real women living in the history of our country, this ranks among my favorites.

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8 thoughts on “Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick (ISBN 9781400074303)

  1. I’m a voracious reader, but don’t read many novels. Your review made me want to add this one to my list. The cover is beautiful–felt like I could smell those lilacs!

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    • If you have a love of history and women especially in history, I think you’ll find Jane’s writing here enjoyable. I hope you’ll give it a try! Jumped over to your blog and enjoyed reading about you and your family and your books. Congrats on so many good educational tools and a sweet devotional book.

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  2. I’m meeting all sorts of people from the NW today! I’ve got to read some of Jane Kirkpatrick’s books, I’ve had them recommended before but haven’t read any yet.
    Thanks for your sweet comment on my scripture and snapshot post.

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    • Elizabeth, so glad you came by! I checked out your blog — we both live in the Portland area. I’m in SE Portland in Milwaukie. What a coincidence! I hope you’ll find time to read some of Jane’s books — they are always a blessing to me. Enjoy the time with your family — they are each one lovely!

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