May 06, 2012
Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick
I am so glad that this book is based off of a real live person. She just seems too wonderful to be left as fiction. Hulda Klager and her lilacs are a definite inspiration, and I'm glad I got a chance to learn about her in this book.
Hulda is a farmer's wife in early nineteen-hundreds Washington State. But she has a passion most farm wives of the time don't; she likes cultivating plants for a specific purpose. And she teachers herself how to make new varieties, all without benefit of a higher education. What starts with an easier peeling apple variety, develops into a love of lilacs and a goal for a creamy white lilac with twelve petals. An impossible seeming task at the time, but a goal to work for all her life. And slowly her garden becomes something else, something that people from all over want to see and bring home with them. And Hulda is more than willing to give them the chance to start their own garden of lilacs.
Their is probably not a more wonderful person than Hulda with her lilacs. The fact that she wants to share them and wants to bring joy to people with flowers, is just beautiful. She's a very creative person too, with the ideas for her lilac hybrids and she helps a lot of people even if she doesn't see it in herself. Her husband seemed like a wonderful man as well and very supportive of Hulda and her dream. He seemed content to sit back and watch her shine and was truly an important part in her work in his own way. Likewise for her children, who maybe didn't understand their mother's passion, but still believed in her dream too.
Although this book had it's sad moments, Hulda had a lot of tragedy in her life, it is also an inspiring read. Hulda accomplished a lot despite setbacks and sorrow and it was neat to see her go from the very beginning of her experiments in this book to the end of her life and seeing what she had accomplished. It actually made me want to go out to Washington state and bring back a lilac for myself, even though I have nowhere to plant it currently. But maybe one day. A love of gardening isn't really even a requirement for this book either. If you like a good, inspirational story about a strong real life woman, this is a great read for that too. Hulda shows us that we can achieve our dreams, even as unlikely as they seem. And I do have to say that even though this is a fictionalized telling of Hulda's stories (not all of the people in it actually existed), they felt real.
A fantastic book, I will definitely check out more of Kirkpatrick's works if they are written in the same tone as this one.
Where Lilacs Still Bloom