When her attorney husband disappears soon after their move to Los Angeles only to resurface in the emergency room in a sky-high manic state, Clare Stone must confront the cold reality that the man she married 15 years ago has become a stranger. Slowly, she pieces together the signs of Richard’s bipolar disorder she has ignored over the years: his frequent agitation and irritability, his equally frequent bouts of excessive exuberance and bursts of egocentric passion. But with her safe, predictable world irreversibly shaken, Clare finds it increasingly difficult to resist the flirtations of the attractive gardener she and Richard hired to spruce up their yard. From the buzz of L.A. to a deadly confrontation, Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate follows the Stone family through the heights and depths of manic-depressive illness as they sort out what is real and what is an illusion.–Description from goodreads
Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate by Alexis Rankin Popik is a pretty intriguing debut novel. I have seen quite a few books begin with a missing person, but never one with such a crafty and original cause.
I found this novel to be well thought out, moving and a bit jarring at times. Although I had read the back cover copy, I didn’t expect the author to be so deeply understanding of the disorder she writes of. I could not read this book without feeling for the main character and sympathizing with her struggle to understand the man she loves.
This book is not so much a romance between a woman and a man other than her husband as it is a romance between a woman and a man who is now different than the man she fell in love with. I particularly enjoyed the animal character “Merlin” in this story. Where if someone would have told me before reading this that it would be a cat that would in some ways be the most comforting character I may have scoffed, in the end it turns out it was true. Alexis writes with passion and uses words to apply colour to her canvas.
I would happily read another book by Alexis Rankin Popik. This was a beautiful journey through darkness and light and kept me entertained from page one. I usually fall in love with a book for a single quote, and in this case it was the very last sentence, where the author sums of the experiences of the characters in this lovely story. If you read it, and I think you should, consider what that final sentence means to you.