THE UNLIKELY LAVENDER QUEEN by Jeannie Ralston

THE UNLIKELY LAVENDER QUEEN

A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Feisty former New Yorker chronicles her second career as a Texas lavender farmer.

Enamored of her life as a high-powered journalist with a penchant for designer shoes, Ralston figured that moving to Austin was enough to satisfy future husband Robb’s desire to escape Manhattan’s glitz and return to his native Texas. But then Robb, a globetrotting photographer for National Geographic, started to find Austin too urban and began lobbying for a home in the country; the 33-year-old author, eager to have a baby, agreed to another move in return for his promise that they’d start a family. The couple eventually bought land in the rural, politically conservative community of Blanco. There, inspired by a visit to the lavender fields of Provence, they started the first commercial lavender farm in Texas while raising two sons in a renovated barn. Irritatingly, nearly half the book is comprised of the author’s whining about the failings of Blanco compared to New York. Readers will grow weary of her nonstop rant about the lack of art, culture, cappuccino and couture fashion in a milieu where camouflage-clad, deer-stalking hunters reigned supreme. Ecstatic when she was finally able to secure a daily subscription to the New York Times, the author obsessed about losing lucrative freelance assignments with periodicals that counted. A fascinating saga about the history of lavender and its cultivation in the United States fights valiantly to emerge from the underbrush of Ralston’s emphasis on the negatives in her life. By the time she gets around to celebrating her achievements as a pioneering lavender farmer and entrepreneur, the reader’s patience has worn thin. Still, the book is likely to find an audience among upscale career-change seekers, aspiring small-business owners and those grappling with work, family and “quality of life” concerns.

A lively read undermined by an unbridled hissy fit.

Pub Date: May 27th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7679-2795-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2008