Viola Shipman
AUTHOR

Viola Shipman

Dear Reader: Does your garden tell a story? Mine does. And it’s the inspiration behind my new novel, The Heirloom Garden, which explores the unlikely relationship between two very different women brought together by the pain of war, but bonded by hope, purpose … and flowers. My grandma was a grand gardener, and many of her original flowers (like her perfumed peonies!) now live in my garden. Each has a memory that reminds me of family. If you love multigenerational sagas filled with hope and history (this explores WWII Victory Gardens, and 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of WWII’s end), love to garden or just love books and flowers, The Heirloom Garden is the spring “pick” for you! I consider The Heirloom Garden to be my richest, deepest, and most moving work to date. The later Dorothea Benton Frank, who I miss dearly, said of the novel, “Every now and then a new voice in fiction arrives to completely charm, entertain and remind us what matters. Viola Shipman is that voice.” The Heirloom Garden explores how loss and loneliness affect us, how we cope and – too often – how we don’t. As an author, I always start my novels not with an heirloom in mind, or certain character, but a question. In this novel, my questions were, “What makes us isolate ourselves from the world? And what gives us hope?” In the novel, two women scarred by war – World War II and the Iraq War – are united by loss and a love of flowers. In my case, much of the pain I explore in the novel is real: My brother died when he was just 17, still a child in so many ways, and his loss had a profound impact on me and my family. How we healed, how we came together, how we found faith – and each other – again is a huge part of this novel. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II (on August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered, with documents signed on the deck of the American battleship USS Missouri on September 2, officially ending the war). In addition, The Heirloom Garden also explores the history of Victory Gardens and their importance in America and World War II. Thousands of gardens were started in cities, large and small, all across America – women leading the charge – and they helped feed their own families and communities as well as our troops and allies. Today’s resurgence of urban and community gardens is a legacy of those Victory Gardens. Like my previous book, The Summer Cottage – which was the #1 bestselling novel in Michigan last year – I am honored to be able to write novels that are inspired by my grandmothers’ and mom’s heirlooms, lives, lessons and love. The multigenerational family sagas I write are meant to serve as a universal tribute to our elders, whose stories and sacrifices helped shape us and make us the people we are today. They are meant to serve as a tribute to family and to remind readers of what’s most important in life. And in these turbulent times, my novels are meant to give us hope, something we need more than every right now.

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