PERSONAL: Born in SC. Education: Furman University, B.A.; University of South Carolina, M.A.
CAREER: Former newspaper reporter.
AWARDS, HONORS: South Carolina Academy of Authors fellowship; two-time winner of South Carolina Fiction Project Prize; Piccolo Spoleto Fiction Open winner.
The Garden Angel (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Mindy Friddle's debut novel, The Garden Angel, is a story of unexpected friendship set in the small town of Sans Souci, Florida. Cutter and Ginnie are sisters who were raised by their grandmother after their father went missing while fighting in Vietnam and their mother was killed in an accident while out shopping. Cutter, age twenty-five, now works two jobs: as a waitress at the Pancake Palace and writing obituaries for the local paper. She is struggling to save the homestead, including the "dead garden" where Gran is buried near the statue of the garden angel. Ginnie, who is pregnant by her married professor, Daniel, wants to sell the house, as does brother Barry, a marine who is hoping to buy a new car.
Daniel's wife, Elizabeth, suffers from agoraphobia, and is also writing a dissertation on garden imagery in the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Through a series of events, Cutter and Elizabeth meet and become close, even after Ginnie's relationship with Daniel and her pregnancy become known. The ending is happy, but as a Publishers Weekly contributor noted, "the majority of readers are likely to feel that there's vinegar and sharp greens enough along the way to merit the rich sweetness." Booklist reviewer Carol Haggas wrote that Friddle "concentrates her considerable talents on developing fully realized protagonists who earn and deserve the reader's respect." The novel was cited for its "winning characters and piquant wit, with an underpinning of graciousness," by a Kirkus Reviews critic who called The Garden Angel "a standout."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 12, 2004, Hal Jacobs, review of The Garden Angel, p. M5.
Booklist, June 1, 2004, Carol Haggas, review of The Garden Angel, p. 1699.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2004, review of The Garden Angel, p. 551.
New York Times Book Review, July 25, 2004, Mark Kamine, review of The Garden Angel, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, June 21, 2004, review of The Garden Angel, p. 44.
Mindy Friddle Home Page, http://www.mindyfriddle.com (March 16, 2005).