Hulda is a German immigrant in the 1900s. Her obsession with hybridization of plants is an inherited passion from her father. Her father confided to her one day in his orchard that her soon-to-be husband, Frank, would not understand a woman’s passion for something other than her family and household. Hulda thinks if she keeps this gift a secret from her husband that she could eventually warm his heart towards these experiments with nature. Later, Hulda realizes that her father was only partially correct.
A passion not shared with the people you love is an empty triumph, she reflects, especially as she successfully creates a better apple after grafting a shoot onto another apple tree. Where Lilacs Still Bloom is her life story filled with snippets of wisdom, shoots of humor, and moments of sorrow. Hulda believed that flowers were not to be sold, but gifted to people. She outlived all of her children and her husband, Frank. Her flowers and personality touched the lives of the children who helped tend her lilac garden. It’s a story that far outlives its pages.
Hulda’s voice in this fiction piece is in the first person, while other characters are in third-person. Kirkpatrick leads us through the lives of not just Hulda Klager, but also the people Hulda influenced. The characters are lovable and the book impeccable in its flow and readability. It’s an unusual fiction piece as it’s based on the story of Hulda Klager. Today her lilac gardens are still open to tourists and it only costs an entrance fee of two dollars.
I gave this book five stars.
*book given by Waterbrook-Multinomah to review.