Plant Life by Pamela Duncan: Book Review

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Plant Life

4 Stars
Laurel Granger lived for her husband, Scott, then he left her for another woman. Depressed, rootless, and alone in Vegas, Laurel decides to head back home to Russell, North Carolina. Without telling her parents what happened, she moves in with them. Well, it becomes obvious that Laurel isn’t going back to Vegas and she needs a job. The only place that will hire her is the plant (factory) where her mother has worked for umpteen years. Laurel isn’t happy to be going to work there, but at least it’s a desk job. She finds herself a part of a group of women who have been friends and helped and hated each other for years. With their help, she starts to finally heal and move on.

I had never even heard of author Pamela Duncan until I saw her speak at a book festival I attended last year. I loved her. I agreed with everything she said and felt like she could be me talking. Plus, Lee Smith, who wrote one of my favorite books ever, was her teacher. I bought all three of Ms. Duncan’s books, had her sign them, and actually had a delightful, short conversation with her. (Me at most signings: “How are you? My name is Jennifer. Yes, it’s spelled the normal way. Thank you.”)

I couldn’t really justify buying three books for myself, so I gave this one to my mom. She has worked in a plant for about as long as I remember. I need to ask her more about what she thought of it, but from the outside looking in, this book looked like it was spot on. My mom has spoken of the same women for years and years. They mostly love each other. Some days, they do get on each other’s nerves. But they are always there at the weddings and the funerals and in sickness and in health. That’s the complicated relationship the author captured in this book.

This was funny and sad and everything in between. I was hoping for Laurel to find a good man, and I picked out the one I wanted her to have very quickly. I was frustrated with her when she didn’t see how perfect he was. I was rooting for Laurel’s mama Pansy to pull out of her issues. My heart hurt for her in her past. I didn’t like Pansy’s mama at first, but in her brief chapters, I started to understand her as well.

I recommend this for a lovely celebration of the complexity of female relationships.

Read an excerpt.

Find author Pamela Duncan on her website and A Good Blog is Hard to Find, a Southern author blog she contributes to.

Buy Plant Life at

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore, and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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1 Comment

  1. Yay! I'm glad you chatted with her. I always panic and say hardly anything. It's always nice when you actually open your mouth.

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