New Blog…

So you can see all the other things I write about, please visit my new blog:


Review of “Bargain Paradise,” by Darlene Blasing

Darlene Blasing: Bargain Paradise (Muskegon, Michigan: Argon Press, 2014)

Bargain Paradise by Darlene Blasing is a story for lovers of gardening and the rural life, and for those of us who are curious and dream about gardening. When reviewing a work, I usually focus on the philosophical elements in a story. This time I’m looking at a story about a woman’s obsession with gardening, and the story has an ethical theme too. I chose to review this work precisely because I love gardening and everything that it involves more or less: encountering numerous plant and animal species, selecting pollinators, starting seeds, planting seedlings, dealing with insects, caring for sick plants and watching everything grow, along with the satisfaction you feel when you finally see the results of your hard work and sweat. Bargain Paradise portrays working in the garden so vividly, and it’s such a funny story.

Bargain Paradise cover6

One day Loretta Evans, the main protagonist, discovered a demolition site in her community where bulldozers were destroying every single plant and shrub—what a waste of beautiful landscaping—and she was determined to rescue everything! Loretta managed to get a deal: she could have all the plants and shrubs for free, and she only had to dig up everything and haul it home in her dilapidated, rusty old pickup truck. The first rescue attempt was only the beginning of something much bigger. Every week there was a new demolition site from which Loretta could salvage plants and shrubs. Oh, she was so happy!

Despite the overwhelming physical labor involved, Loretta surprisingly becomes more energetic, happier and relaxed. She feels like her real self again. However, Loretta’s husband Jerry doesn’t share her enthusiasm and he becomes increasingly disenchanted. Jerry is the kind of guy who likes routine, and after a long day at the office expects to have a warm home-cooked meal. A few new plants on their property he considered to be more than enough. Jerry doesn’t particularly appreciate or understand the sense of achievement that his wife feels for the hard work she’s put into the gardening project. Loretta’s work is certainly beautiful, but Jerry simply cannot comprehend how Loretta can work every single day, barely eating and not regularly doing house chores or cooking nice dinners—working late into the night planting and watering the new plants and shrubs. Similarily, Julie, Loretta’s friend who also admires the landscaping project, even offers to help. Doing a little bit of dirty work is one thing, however, Julie doesn’t have motivation on the scale of Loretta’s. Neither can Julie understand why Loretta is pushing herself to the maximum. Why does anyone need to have forty acres entirely filled with flowering plants and shrubs?

How will Jerry continue coping with his wife’s obsessive gardening? Loretta certainly has a strong work ethic and determination. And Loretta won’t stop until she gets what she wants: a grand garden, the likes of an English estate garden. It’s obvious to everyone around Loretta: she’s obsessed with her gardening to the point where it dominates everything in her life. For Jerry, it’s the fear of the forty acres!

Darlene Blasing is just as determined as her protagonist: All of her scenes are meant to captivate the gardener and wanna be gardener in us, as well as continuously instilling in our imagination all those things that could make a typical day’s work in the garden so pleasurable and gratifying. The humor in this story is wonderfully portrayed. As every scene unfolds you never know what to expect. I couldn’t stop laughing

There is something to be learned from this story. First, try not to work so hard, give things some time. But then again, for those of us who are passionate about what we do, telling us not to work so hard simply won’t be comprehended nor appreciated! Second, it’s always good to save and recycle things and make the best effort to do so. Third, we ought to find a compromise even if it seems impossible to do so. And perhaps we ought to strive to find the middle ground between excess and deficiency, always being aware and conscientious.

Those who would enjoy reading Darlene Blasing’s story the most would surely be the ones who share a love of gardening, getting their hands dirty and relishing the smell of fresh earth. Even if you aren’t into gardening, the passion and drive of Loretta will encourage you to think deeply about it. Maybe you’ll even take up gardening yourself!

By Karin Susan Fester, September 26, 2017

Book cover image courtesy of  Darlene Blasing


I write about a lot of different things

Writing about diverse subject matter is fun, exciting and inspirational. Mostly on this blog I present book reviews: scholarly, non-fiction and a few fiction works. But I have much more in my portfolio. To see my other writings, please visit my blog Piemonte is Life which features substantial writings about life in Piedmont, Italy: culture, food, wine, nature and more. Piedmont is famous for its wine production and it goes steadfastly hand in hand with its unique food culture and practices, being influenced from local traditions throughout the region.

And I also have a gardening blog: Spirit of the Garden. This particular blog focuses on a Monferrine garden and orchard—nature’s vitality greatly inspired me—it’s an expression of the relationship I had with the plants in my vegetable garden as well as the wide variety of fruit and nut trees I cultivated.

My writings emerge spontaneously from living a life. I live to write—the writing has a life of its own.

Thank you for stopping by,




Karin Susan Fester (c) 2017

Interested in the Seventeenth Century?

And another review will be published this year: Sophie Chiari, ed. The Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern English Literature (Ashgate, 2015).

Philosophy Book Reviews


52672_M. Edwards                     HanahDawsLocke                      03_12_2013_Med Rhet

Here is a list of reviews I’ve written for scholarly books concentrated on the seventeenth century. Click on the book titles to be linked to OAKTrust library at Texas A&M University.

A review of “Locke, Language and Early-Modern Philosophy” by Hannah Dawson
Fester, Karin Susan (Texas A&M University, 2010)

A review of “Rhetoric and Medicine in Early Modern Europe” edited by Stephen Pender and Nancy S. Struever
Fester, Karin Susan (Texas A&M University, 2013)

A review of “The Devil in Disguise. Deception, Delusion, and Fanaticism in the Early English Enlightenment” by Mark Knights
Fester, Karin Susan (Texas A&M University, 2012)

A review of “Time and The Science of The Soul In Early Modern Philosophy” by Michael Edwards Fester, Karin Susan (Texas A&M University, 2015)

More reviews coming in 2016 !

Visit the Seventeenth-Century Newswebsite  HERE  SCN_C image

View original post

Supporting rider Jonty Evans to save his Olympic partner Art

Jonty Evans quote (JUly 24)1 copy

I’m supporting Jonty Evans Irish Rio Olympics 3-day event rider and his equine partner “Art” / Cooley Rorkes Drift. An extraordinary crowdfunding campaign to save their Olympic partnership is currently in full force. In my entire life as a horsey person, I’ve never seen something like this. A rider fighting so hard to save his partner. It’s heartbreaking.

Never, never give up…


The bond between Jonty and Art is very special. I’d like to see this Irish-bred horse stay with it’s current rider Jonty Evans, who has spent many years producing the horse—it’s very hard work. Art trusts Jonty wholeheartedly, and in a sport like 3-day eventing that is extremely important and necessary. I’d like to see Cooley Rorkes Drift continue being a member of the Irish team. I also think that it would not be good for the horse to be suddenly taken away from the rider he so deeply trusts. Never underestimate the close bond between a horse and its rider. I can see no reason why this partnership should be broken. Jonty loves Art, and he’s doing everything he can to secure the ownership of his partner. If it’s a matter of money, then funding has to be found.

The sale price of the horse is astronomical — £550,000 — and it’s almost impossible for Jonty, if not most international 3-day event riders, to come up with that kind of money to secure the ownership of a horse. What is so heartbreaking is when you see a rider like Jonty who has given his “ALL” to care for and train a horse and then to see this horse, after many people suddenly took notice of this horse’s performance at the Rio Olympics and other recent competitions, being taken away from him. Jonty needs help. Jonty needs the peoples help.

Jonty and Art will NOT be able to compete at the European Eventing Championships in Strzegom, Poland in two weeks if the ownership matter is not settled, otherwise the horse will be sold. I don’t want to see this happen.  And, I’d like to Jonty and Art compete in the next Summer Olympics in the Tokyo!

Being an Olympic athlete is tough and expensive, and it can be very heartbreaking too! A horse is not like a pair of running shoes, a pair of skis, or a tennis racket that can be quickly replaced. A horse is a living creature with a soul. A horse is sentient and intelligent. And it can take years to build up a close, trusting relationship, not to mention the intense physical training endured, that is needed to successfully compete at the Olympic international level. Jonty and Art are a superb combination, but they need financial help if they are going to stay together. I also know that if Art stays with Jonty he will have a forever home where he will be very well taken care of. This is another reason why I’m strongly supporting the crowdfunding campaign.

I’m tweeting and engaging with social media as much as I can, along with so many other people (!), to help Jonty Evans raise the funds needed to save Art from being taken away. The bond between Jonty and Art is special. Time is running out…

Let’s make their dream come true !

Read their StoryDONATE here

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.


Karin Susan Fester  //  Twitter  @Books_Lagniappe

Declaration: I’ve owned horses and ridden all of my life. I competed. Supported Pony Club. Sponsored kids to ride. I’ve slept all night out in barns taking care of sick horses. My horses always ate before I did. I’ve felt the pain of losing a horse I dearly loved. I’ve always made an effort to help other horse people in times of need. Horses are my passion.