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New Books Network Interview: Ginny Kubitz Moyer

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

A young woman in a flowing pink dress, seen through an arch of greenery as she looks toward a beautiful garden. Cover of The Seeing Garden

After ten years of New Books Network interviews, I’ve had the good fortune to build relationships with authors and publicists involved with everything from self-publishing to the Big Five. As a result, I field a lot of pitches for novels—ranging from obviously auto-generated invitations for, say, Little League memoirs to personalized introductions to historical novelists whose work that I might never have encountered otherwise but which I just love.

Ginny Kubitz Moyer’s The Seeing Garden is in the latter category. It came out in May from She Writes Press—which lies somewhere along the middle of the range, meaning that submissions are curated but authors pay up front for professional editing, formatting, and cover design—and at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Novels about young women finding themselves are not rare, after all.

But it was set in northern California, a place of which I have fond memories, so I agreed to take a look. I dove in and fell in love—with the characters, of course, or at least the heroine (some of the antagonists do their job too well to deserve a reader’s affection), but most of all with the gardens and the gorgeously evocative descriptions of them as mirrors of the heroine’s soul.

This somewhat surprised me, as I am well known in my family to possess the Thumb of Death. It’s so bad that I once heard my then eight-year-old son commiserating with a plant we were bringing home from the nursery on the likelihood that it would not long survive the trip. But despite my own failings in that department, I love nothing more than a beautiful garden. And in that respect, Catherine Ogden and I are 100% on the same page. Find out more below and from my interview with Ginny Kubitz Moyer on the New Books Network.

As always, the rest of this post comes from New Books in Historical Fiction.

Nineteen-year-old Catherine Ogden appears to have everything: youth, wealth, birth, breeding, and beauty. No one in New York high society is surprised when she attracts the attention of William Brandt, an up-and-coming business tycoon from California. It’s 1910, and the job of women like Catherine is to marry well and make their families proud.

At her aunt’s urging, Catherine agrees to visit the Brandt estate near San Francisco. There she falls in love not with her prospective groom but with his beautiful, sun-filled house and, most of all, the extensive gardens that surround it. When he proposes marriage, she accepts.

Yet Catherine is not quite the society heiress her appearance suggests. The daughter of a wealthy man who gave up his fortune for art and love of her mother, Catherine grew up in a household that valued emotional fulfillment more than status and pride. So she can’t ignore the prickles of concern that arise during her conversations with William. For a while, she distracts herself by designing a beautiful garden of her own, but as the wedding day draws closer, a series of surprises force her to confront what she most wants in life.

As noted in her bio, Ginny Kubitz Moyer lives and gardens in the area where she has set her novel, and it shows. The exquisite descriptions of the landscape and its effect on Catherine could carry the novel, but they don’t have to. Catherine herself—with her combination of innocence and self-awareness, her unexpected past and its contrasts with her very different present—is the heart of the story. And although we can predict where she might be heading, Moyer keeps us guessing almost to the end as to how her heroine will get there. All in all, a very satisfying read.


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