Lily Wilk always knew she was destined to be an artist -- ever since she pulled a drawing kit from a grab bag on her tenth birthday. Now Lily's work is always in demand around her small Massachusetts town, where she makes her living painting fire hydrants, lettering diplomas, and applying "Gulls" and "Buoys" to restaurant bathroom doors. But when supermarket heiress Mary Ziemba commissions her to paint a family portrait, Lily senses her lifelong dream of creating a memorable masterpiece is finally within her grasp. What she discovers, however, is that dreams often take their own unexpected twists...and with each small and gentle brush stroke she applies to Mary Ziemba's painting, Lily learns more than she ever imagined about the meaning of friendship, family, and love.
With a gift for creating fiction that is "rich with an unusual sweetness" (USA Today) and filled with wry humor, bestselling author Suzanne Strempek Shea delivers a poignant and unforgettable work of art in Lily of the Valley.
Shea returns for the third time to the small-town Massachusetts she captured so well in Selling the Lite of Heaven and Hoopi Shoopi Donna for this sentimental yet satisfying tale of dreams realized in peculiar ways. When she was 10, Lily Wilk pulled an art kit out of a grab bag and knew she had found her "true occupation." Twenty-nine years later, Lily is making her living as an artist, though not in the way she once imagined. Kept busy by myriad mundane tasks, she draws children's caricatures at parties, paints signs for rest rooms and fire hydrants and occasionally exhibits her real art work at the post office and local festivals. Still, she remains certain that she is destined for greater things. One day, opportunity knocks in the form of Mary Ziemba, owner of a supermarket chain and the richest woman in town, who commissions Lily to paint a portrait of her family, one that will depict each member "at whatever was the best point in their lives." As the project unfolds, Lily--whose own immediate family, ex-husband and stepson have recently scattered across the globe--reflects more and more on the true nature of human relations. Shea lovingly renders Lily's family and friends--among them, a coupon-addicted uncle and his girlfriend, whose hobby is writing to the survivors of famous dead people--with the same affectionate brushstrokes she employs to describe her protagonist's beloved art. By the time it becomes clear to Lily that family is as much created as it is inherited, readers may well count themselves lucky to have gained vicarious admission to her colorful circle.