The Fragrance of Geraniums
post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: The Fragrance of Geraniums
Author: Alicia G. Ruggieri
Series: A Time of Grace book 1
Major Themes: Adultery, Faith, Hope
Synopsis: With her home life in a shambles, Grace Picoletti struggles to find her way in life—even as her father spirals deeper into sin and her mother’s demands seem to increase daily.
I find the more levels there are to a story, the more I tend to enjoy a book. That’s not always true—but I think I like watching different people evolve over the course of a story, and then seeing how all their different stories merge into one beautiful one in the end. The Fragrance of Geraniums was one story like this, with at least two different “main” stories, and another one or two on the side. It may have had a bit more head-hopping in it than I normally see (although those were contained to individual scenes, I think, so it wasn’t a big deal to me), but the overall story left me feeling quite thankful I had the chance to pick up this book!
Grace Picoletti’s home life is incredibly difficult. Her father is often out of the house, and more and more frequently he seems to be spending time with a certain Gertrude who has caught his fancy. Her mother rarely shows her any kindness—a ploy, Grace suspects, to protect herself from being hurt more. Grace would love to join the school chorus, but when she’s the only one who can help her mother…and then they find out her mother is expecting her seventh child. It soon looks rather unlikely that her dreams can be fulfilled. Is there any way for the family to pull out of the sin and darkness they’re in? Can she find hope anywhere?
Meanwhile, Emmeline has her own troubles. She’s been longing for children for years, but with each pregnancy that ends in miscarriage, her hope slides further. Then, when she finds out she is pregnant again, her hopes rise…only to be dashed by the doctor, who informs her that she’s actually miscarrying again, and further, that she’d likely never have children of her own. Will she ever have a family of her own? Are she and Geoff destined to a quiet house the rest of their lives? How can she keep her trust in the Lord—and what about the girl she sees coming past at times, that looks so sad and poor, yet stares longingly at her geraniums? Can she reach out to others, even when her own pain is so great?
There are two different worlds brought together in The Fragrance of Geraniums in such a beautiful way. First is a broken girl’s life, with her father openly committing adultery and the rest of the family totally dysfunctional, with no hope of an out. Then there is a young Christian couple with a love for the Lord who cannot have a family of their own. Seeing them experience new hurts—walk through dark places—and how those things brought them together was just beautiful. The story itself? Overall, really difficult. Because sin is terrible, and the aftereffects of sin are just disgusting and really quite awful. And it isn’t glossed over in this book—you see it for what it is. But so much HOPE shines through these pages as well! The paths weren’t easy for anyone, but they kept seeking for a deeper knowledge of the truth. For hope. It was never overt, never too religious or legalistic, but simple faith in Jesus was there, and I loved it.
I’m having a hard time putting this book into words. It was one of the more difficult stories I’ve read recently, because of the nature of the subject matter. But sometimes, as in books like this, the light of the gospel is able to shine even more clearly because of the difficulty the characters experience, and that’s wonderful! Overall, a highly recommended story if you’re looking for a good Christian fiction that isn’t preachy, or too perfect, but still delivers a fascinating tale.
WARNING: In chapter 3, a man has gone for a drink because he was upset about something that happened. At the very end of the chapter, someone is smoking. In chapter 4, a man tells of punching another man “good. Right in his kisser.”, how the other man had struck back and hurt the first one, and how the other man was cheating on his wife. Later in chapter 4, a man is cursing (not explicitly), and wishes he could have another drink. In chapter 6, a man is mentioned being badly hurt because he was punched, the word “blasted” is used, and again there is talk about a man cheating on his wife. Later in chapter 6, things related to pregnancy are discussed some, and a woman is told she is going through a “slow spontaneous abortion”. In chapter 7, a girl dreads being hit by her father, and a woman throws a can after becoming enraged. In chapter 8, a man brings another woman to live at his house, even though his wife and children still live there. In chapter 11, a woman wakes up bleeding, having a miscarriage (sort-of graphic), later on in the chapter, a man is mentioned as “rarely not having a girlfriend in the years he’d been married”, how a woman had kissed him, and how she had lured him into sin and he yielded to her, and later, a girl prays to Mary. In chapter 12, a woman is thinking about her miscarriage (some detail). In chapter 13, the phrase “for Pete’s sake” is used. In chapter 14, a man hits two different women. In chapter 15, a doctor tells a woman that her body is “aborting this fetus”, and later, the word “blast” is used. In chapter 16, symptoms of miscarriage are discussed again in some detail, later, the phrase “for heaven’s sake” is used. In chapter 18, there is a description of a woman recovering from surgery. In chapter 19, there is a mention of an unmarried couple kissing at the movies. In chapter 26, a man hits a woman several times, yells at her, and curses her. Chapter 28 has someone thanking “the Sweet Mother”. In chapter 30, someone sees two drunken people. In chapter 32, it mentions that a man never comes home at night anymore. In chapter 34, a man is badly burned. In chapter 40, a woman is in labor (some description). In chapter 44, a man curses and holds a woman at knife-point, later he heads into town for a drink. In chapter 45, a man is hit and killed by a truck.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy The Fragrance of Geraniums:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback
Keywords: Adultery, Hope, Faith, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, 20th Century, 1900-1950, North America