Martel writes with ease and grace.


Simone Martel's beautifully cultivated garden stories range from the humorous, the tale of an errant water lily, to the profound and unexpected, how inspiration and hope can come from working in a tomato field. Each tale is a verdant-themed treasure and Martel's the perfect storyteller to bring in the harvest.

Sandra Knauf, Editor and Publisher, Greenwoman Magazine

The title story, "Exile's Garden," set over the border in Mexico, tells of the reunion of a troubled, war-weary couple fleeing past ghosts. Simone Martel's remaining tales are populated by hardscrabble farmworkers and  garden club ladies, These stories, set in California's agricultural region, explore themes of growth in ways literal and metaphoric. Though wryly treated, "Hotel Coyote" introduces the question of compromised ethics in business practices. From the lighter tone of "The Garden Over the Hill," and "The Difficulty of Cultivating Water Lilies," a stark realism limns "Calle De Veneno," lending weight to the collection. With candor, Simone Martel addresses issues of personal degradation and inhumane factory farming, all of which serve as a backdrop to the struggle of a family to survive reverses, while preserving hope for a better future. Overall, the collection of garden-related tales is nicely balanced between its lighter and darker themes.

Faye George, author of Voices of King Philip's War