Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

Five Great Novels about Gardens

An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden (FIC Godden)

Two tough street kids in postwar London cultivate a hidden garden in an otherwise drab neighborhood. This simple act transforms their neighbors’ lives in unexpected ways.  The younger characters in this novel are realistically and richly portrayed, and Godden relates their very moving story without ever lapsing into sentimentality.

Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory (FIC Gregory)

Set during the build-up of political and religious tensions that led to the English Civil War, Earthly Joys follows garden designer for the nobility John Tradescant as he uses the wisdom gleaned from his gardening experience to navigate an unruly political world.  A wonderfully detailed historical setting and large cast of fascinating characters make this one of Philippa Gregory’s best loved novels.

The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys (FIC Humphreys)

When the blitz forces Gwen Davis to leave her job at the Royal Horticultural Society in London, she volunteers to move to rural Devon and supervise a garden that is raising food for the war effort.  Gwen’s patience is tested by a nearby regiment of Canadian soldiers and a multitude of unexpected responsibilities.  Slow moving but thoughtful, Humphreys brings a poetic sensibility to this evocative wartime novel and gives us a fully-fleshed, multifaceted central character.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (FIC Allen)

For generations all of the women in the Waverly family have had strange, subtly magical talents that they connect with the special garden growing behind their house.  When the current generation of Waverlys has a falling out the family’s unusual gifts play an important role in healing the rift.  Garden Spells is a character driven story with a richly realized southern setting and a touch of magic realism to add interest.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (YA PB Burnett)

Orphaned by a cholera outbreak in India, 10 year old Mary Lenox is sent to live with her uncle in a gloomy mansion in Yorkshire.  When she arrives Mary is bad-tempered, bitter, and unimpressed with her new home.   The gardener, Ben Weatherstaff, local boy Dickon, and the discovery of a secret walled-off garden on the mansions grounds slowly improve Mary’s outlook.   The Secret Garden holds up just as well for adults as it does for children.  Burnett’s characters are sympathetic and relatable, and the setting is truly magical.

List by Matthew

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2012 by in Book Review, Fiction, Lists.
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