Rating: 5/5 stars
In the Light of the Garden is a novel about unearthed family secrets, the enchantment of past loves, and the indelible power of forgiveness.
Inheriting her grandparents’ island estate on Florida’s Gulf coast is a special kind of homecoming for thirty-one-year-old Charity Baxter. Raised by a narcissistic single mother, Charity’s only sense of a loving home comes from childhood summers spent with Gramps and Grandma. But piercing her fondest memories is her sharpest grief—the death of her beloved grandmother, when Charity stopped believing in the magical healing power of the weeping willow that still casts a shadow on their property.
Now that Charity has returned, she’s full of longing and regret, until she befriends her neighbor Dalton Reynolds, who has come to Gaslamp Island carrying his own heartache. As other exiles arrive—a great uncle harboring secrets, a teenage runaway—Charity begins to reconsider what makes a family. When her own estranged mother shows up in crisis, Charity is challenged to search her heart for forgiveness. But forgiving herself may require a little magic from the last place she’d expect to find it.
Thirty one year old Charity Baxter was raised by her single mother Ellen in New York, but spent her childhood summers up until the age of eleven at her grandparents’ house on Gaslamp Island in Florida. Her grandparents were everything her mother wasn’t: loving and generous. Ellen had Charity as a teenager and always resented not being able to chase her dream as the next big movie star. Vain and shallow, Ellen was unable to parent Charity in the ways she needed or deserved. Gramps and Grandma filled that void.
Gaslamp Island was magical for young Charity. She believed in fairies and magic until a family tragedy swiftly brought those days to an end. After the age of eleven Charity’s beloved summer escapes to her grandpaents’ home came to an end.
When Charity’s grandfather dies she returns to Gaslamp Island after inheriting her grandparents’ house. It is here that Charity will have to tackle her past in order to face her future. Her new next door neighbor, Dalton Reynolds, is dealing with his own demons and heartbreak. Throw in some other family members and neighbors with struggles and regrets to overcome, and they are able to come together and embrace forgiveness, acceptance and renewal, all the while with a hint of magic in the air.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the characters. There was a sense of magic streaming through the storyline. Charity is a strong woman who has risen above the challenges of having a selfish and distant mother. Her return to her grandparents’ home ignites so many changes in the lives of those she comes in contact with. I loved how the story unfolded and how problems were resolved. This is a story of family and forgiveness and was beautifully told. I look forward to reading other books by Heather Burch.