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The Chrysanthemum Garden

Joseph Cowley
The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck – Minute Book Report

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The Chrysanthemum Garden is a novel about two people, so real, so authentic, so totally realized that as we watch them fall in love we feel we are finally being permitted to enter the magic kingdom of human heart. Morna Franklin and Denison McArdle are not adolescent, romantic stick figures, but mature humans who bear the scars, defeats, resignation and triumphs, that come from having lived full lives. But neither is, nor could ever be, prepared for the moment of unexpected grace that wrenches them from the lives they assumed they would always live. She is in her fifties, a mother and grandmother. He is seventy, a great American poet, a widower waiting benignly for his life to wind down. The novel is the story of their life together, a novel so transcendently beautiful that reading it is like an act of liberation and deliverance, from the cares of this life and from the fears of aging and death.