“Cantrell has penned another quietly contemplative, thought-provoking novel. Her prose is so meaningful that every phrase begs to be mulled over... This is a book that begs to be re-read and discussed." -- RT Reviews TOP PICK
Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, MS, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother's stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything . . . especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.
Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. The perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.
At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.
In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.
When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents' 50th anniversary, Lovey is at wits’ end. She's about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, "Family First," draw her right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.
4 ½ stars and TOP PICK by RT Reviews:
“Cantrell has penned another quietly contemplative, thought-provoking novel. Her prose is so meaningful that every phrase begs to be mulled over. Hearts will break for Lovey, a somewhat prodigal daughter who never really knows the depth of her parents' love until it is almost too late. Anger bubbles up against Bitsy and her actions, yet the author's ability to pull out these deep emotions is what makes this novel so very touching and nuanced. This is a book that begs to be re-read and discussed.
Eva "Lovey" Sutherland grew up adoring her older sister Bitsy and basking in the love of her parents in Oxford, Mississippi. One day a horrific incident occurs, and that changes the course of all of their lives. Yanked from her feelings of safety and security, Lovey eventually moves to Arizona and establishes a comfortable, steady life for herself. When her father calls and convinces her to return home to help her sister plan their parents' anniversary party, Lovey has to confront the painful emotions she has stuffed deep inside for most of her life. As the truth about things past and present begins to surface, Lovey examines her beliefs and understanding about what love and family really mean.” (THOMAS NELSON, Nov., 352 pp., $15.99)
Reviewed by: Melissa Parcel
"Family drama, small-town pressures, and life’s unexpected turns are all set within the charming parameters of a Southern perennial garden. Add the literary links to Faulkner and Welty, a soul-stirring romance, and Cantrell’s lyrical story-telling skills and you’ve got a heart-warming tale that is sure to outlast the seasons. You’ll love Perennials!"
—Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House for Rent
“With languid prose and vivid description, Julie Cantrell’s novel unfolds as beautifully as one of her protagonist's favorite flowers. Cantrell weaves moving and inspirational stories that make her one of today’s most beloved storytellers. Perennials may be her most breathtaking yet.”
—Kristy Woodson Harvey, bestselling author of Slightly South of Simple
“Like the perennial plants that give the story its namesake, Julie Cantrell’s characters survive drought and flood, sunshine and storm. Readers will see reflections of their own lives as they travel along with Lovey when she returns to the rich Mississippi soil to bloom again. If Julie Cantrell isn’t on your reading list, she should be.”
—Lisa Wingate, national bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
“Full of southern charm, this evocative family saga delves into the weight of our relationships and the roles played by fate, redemption and love. Beautifully written, Julie Cantrell’s Perennials is a must read, especially for those who believe in the power of second chances.”
—Karma Brown, bestselling author of In This Moment
“In Perennials, Julie Cantrell offers a modern Southern family saga brimming with traditional family values and contemporary problems. Cantrell's well-paced story, beautiful prose, and lush descriptions effortlessly carry you through the estranged, yet enmeshed, lives of sisters Lovey and Bitsy. The novel is deftly woven with bits of Mississippi history, literature, and landscape, adding to this immersive read that goes right to your heart, and makes you remember what's truly important.”
—Amy Sue Nathan, author of Left to Chance
“In Perennials, Julie Cantrell has written a love letter to her home state of Mississippi, Deep South summers, and flower blooms that can heal the soul. Through main character Lovey's return trip home, we see what it means to keep "Family First" no matter what. And her journey home is much more than just miles traveled--it's a glimpse into a life full of heartache and longing, the illuminating light of truth, and the redemptive power of love."
—Lauren Denton, author of The Hideaway
"With her proven ability to peel back the layers that expose the frailty of the soul, Julie Cantrell has created another evocative tale that tackles tough themes like trust, loyalty, truth, and the familial ties that bind us, whether we want them to or not. A story that will settle in and stay with you, Perennials is a masterpiece not to be missed."
—Catherine West, author of The Things We Knew & The Memory of You
"Oxford, Mississippi--In the span of only a few pages, author Julie Cantrell, in her new novel of the South, took me from a place I'd never been to a place I now feel I need to go. With tender hearted prose and characters full-to-blooming, Perennials is a poignant family drama that reminds us all what it means to return to our roots and come back home."
—James Markert, author of The Angels’ Share
“Perennials is much more than a testament to the South and the healing power of family, it is a love letter that speaks to the deepest longings within us all. Julie Cantrell is a master.”
—Billy Coffey, author of Some Small Magic
"You can leave home—but does home ever leave you? That’s the question at the heart of Julie Cantrell’s stunning new novel. With a story that’s at once classic and unlike anything you’ve read before, Perennials is as lush and entrancing as the gardens described within its pages.”
—Camille Pagán, bestselling author of Life and Other Near-Death Experiences
“From the lush Mississippi setting and lyrical writing, to the flawed yet engaging characters, Julie Cantrell's Perennials is an engrossing reading pleasure. I loved this story of a fractured family and a prodigal daughter, and the healing power and connections that tending gardens brings to their lives. Like an artist, the author uses a delicate brush to carefully illustrate the joys and pains of life's growing seasons, and of learning how to surrender old hurts to find forgiveness. This is a book to read more than once.”
—Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of The Night the Lights Went Out