Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Garden Angel

The Garden Angel

A Novel

Mindy Friddle

St. Martin's Press



Set in a Southern, city-swallowed town, The Garden Angel tells the story of two women and their unlikey friendship. Cutter Johanson is plucky and eccentric, nostalgic about her family's once glorious past. She has her hands full warding off potential buyers from the dilapidated homestead she is determined to keep. Though the neighborhood has changed, even grown shabby, Father Bob's Home for Retarded Men across the street has become a sort of extended family for Cutter. And her two jobs keep her busy: she has the "dead beat" writing obituaries for the Sans Souci Citizen and waits tables at the nearby Pancake Palace. Cutter's home is like another character, elegiac, full of secrets, providing her with a refuge from the modern world outside her neighborhood. That is, until Cutter's sister, Ginnie, pregnant with her married lover's child, brings trouble home.

Elizabeth Byers rarely ventures outside the brick ranch she shares with her husband, Daniel, a professor at Palmetto University. Agoraphobic and stricken with panic attacks, she fills her days gardening and writing her dissertation on Emily Dickinson. But one day, an anonymous call brings disturbing news that propels her into action. Elizabeth summons her courage to leave her house and drive into neighboring San Souci, and the disturbing sad events that follow lead her to forge a friendship with Cutter, a stranger who reaches out to help.

By the closing pages, Cutter is losing her house and Elizabeth is losing her husband. The two women pull together to come up with a solution--and find sanctuary from their troubles.


Praise for The Garden Angel

“A comic delight...Winning characters and piquant wit, with an underpinning of graciousness: a standout.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Friddle has a way with the comic yet apt image...funny, down-to-earth and steeped in a sense of place.” —The Washington Post

“Mindy Friddle has a great comic touch, and her novel is a touching, heartfelt debut.” —Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls

The Garden Angel takes on the shifting alliances defined by family, love, and friendship with quirky grace and raucous wit. Mindy Friddle's details are shocking and flawless. I'm thankful for her reminder that our frail souls can be ultimately triumphant.” —Julianna Baggott, author of Girl Talk, The Miss America Family and The Madam

“Agoraphobes and adulterers, lovers of history and advocates for the future, the mentally ill and the putatively sane all line up to do battle in The Garden Angel, a warm-hearted, funny novel about the vagaries of small-town life and the encroachments of the big, bad world.” —Debra Spark, author of Coconuts for the Saint and The Ghost of Bridgetown and editor of Twenty Under Thirty: Best Stories by America's New Young Writers

“Here is a wonderful debut, a novel full of laugh-out-loud humor but also heartbreak as Friddle's women struggle to honor the past while accommodating the present. Cutter Johanson is a heroine Eudora Welty would be proud to claim and one few readers will forget. THE GARDEN ANGEL is a book I did not want to end.” —Ron Rash, author of ONE FOOT IN EDEN

“THE GARDEN ANGEL is smart, soulful, sensual and hysterically funny. Mindy Friddle's writing is as quirky and original as the South itself.” —Valerie Ann Leff, author of BETTER HOMES AND HUSBANDS

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Mindy Friddle

Mindy Friddle is a former newspaper reporter. She received the 2003 South Carolina Fiction Prize and a Fellowship in Fiction from the South Carolina Academy of Authors.

Mindy Friddle

© Josh Norris

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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