Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unfinished Garden” as Want to Read:
The Unfinished Garden
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Unfinished Garden

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  673 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
A successful software developer, James has thrown himself into a new goal — to finally conquer the noise in his mind. And he has a plan. He'll confront his darkest fears and build something beautiful...a garden. When he meets Tilly Silverberg, he knows she holds the key — even if she doesn't think so.

After her husband's death, gardening became Tilly's livelihood and her sa
Paperback, 322 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Harlequin (first published 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Unfinished Garden, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Unfinished Garden

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,166)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 10, 2012 Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About fifteen minutes ago I finished reading The Unfinished Garden. Coming to the end is bittersweet, really. For the last week, I've carried Barbara Claypole White’s novel with me everywhere, picking it up in spare moments, even if only to read a few sentences before moving on to my next task. I must admit that I attempted to race through each page, eager to uncover more and more of the saga between Tilly and James; however, I was constantly slowed down by the sheer beauty of the author’s words ...more
Sep 29, 2012 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a harlequin. I did not know that when I started. If you like romance novels, you will likely love it. It is atmospheric, there is good romantic tension, and there are interesting plot devices like OCD and unexplained guilt. That, however, was not what I was looking for.

My favorite line, un-ironically uttered by Our Hero: ""You're in danger, Matilda Rose, of becoming my greatest obsession." It pretty much sums the book up. If this book were a movie, that would totally be the tag line.

Erika Robuck
Sep 28, 2012 Erika Robuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just closed the pages of this beautiful book with tears in my eyes and hope for humanity.

Set in the US and the UK, The Unfinished Garden is the story of a widow and her son trying to make a new place in the world. Tilly can either choose to recreate her past with an old love, Sebastian, or forge ahead with a new future, and James; neither choice is easy, but one will save her.

Dealing with family issues of caring for ailing parents, raising children well, OCD, and physical ailments, The Unfini
Oct 03, 2013 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this most readable book a month or so ago and have been dilly-dallying about writing a review. Why? I felt guilty.

This well-written story had enough psychological tension to inspire me to pick it up over and over to see how single mom Tilly reconciles her present widowhood in North Carolina with her formative past in England, as represented by new-yet-complicated possibility James, and the Englishman who was her hot-yet-unresolved first love.

The only thing that keeps me from a five-st
Julie Kibler
Aug 01, 2012 Julie Kibler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an early review copy of The Unfinished Garden from NetGalley. This was truly a lovely story. Major characters, Tilly and James, and minor characters, Isaac, Rowena, and Sebastian, effectively play off each other's strengths and foibles to explore their feelings of loss and grief, and in turn, their joy and rediscovery of hope and trust. Readers will enjoy the lush setting details in both venues--North Carolina and rural England, as well as Claypole White's use of gardening as metaphor ...more
Amy Franklin-Willis
Barbara Claypole White gifts the reader with a lush setting, a heartbroken heroine, and a hero with a crippling disability in this unusual and lovely novel. The author describes the beauty of North Carolina and England, the two primary settings, with vivid details that transport the reader. Some of my favorite passages are the descriptions of the landscape and the gardens. Tilly is trying to keep herself and her young son together following her husband's premature death and is a compelling chara ...more
The book is at it's best when the author just lets it flow. I like the characters of Tilly, her family, and friends, I love the way Jame's OCD is handled, I even liked the stuff about gardening, which isn't normally a topic to draw me. An enjoyable story with some meat to it, and a pleasing romance. I look forward to more from this author.


Updated 10/11/2012: Attended a reading/talk last night with the author, in recognition of OCD awareness week. She was amazing, charming, forthright, and eng
Sep 10, 2012 Betsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great first book by a local author. I loved reading about a gardener as the main character since I am a gardener myself. It takes place in two places that I love: North Carolina and England. Ms. White does a great job of telling the tales of a widow who is recovering from her husband's death and a man who is dealing with OCD. I have had experience with both and she does a wonderful job writing about the characters emotions and actions. I am looking forward to more from Ms. White in the ...more
Priscille Sibley
Oct 03, 2012 Priscille Sibley rated it it was amazing
The Unfinished Garden is a beautiful story. I don't read romance but the writing here is so textural and the voice is so rich that I fell into it and couldn't put it down. The story and the relationships have substance and it is the characters' enduring faults and strengths that make them so lovable. An absolutely lovely book, a memorable one.
M.B. Gibson
Jan 25, 2013 M.B. Gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Through "The Unfinished Garden," Barbara Claypole White brings an uncommon depth and elegance to a beautiful love story. The protagonist, Tilly, struggles to move past the death of her husband by throwing her energies into her son, Isaac, and her North Carolina gardening business.

When a wealthy and somewhat dashing James Nealy offers an exorbitant fee to landscape his new home, Tilly flatly refuses. But the quirky software developer shows a remarkable persistence, even following her to her child
The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White A Recommended Read! A women's fiction novel that brilliantly contradicts uniformity with quirky characters in need of stability amongst their inner chaos. Tilly and James are uniquely flawed individuals whose friendship encompasses more than just a boy meets girl story. This novel unabashedly dives into psychological fears created by death, guilt and OCD, testing friendships beyond the normal range with humor, vivid emotion and understanding.

Full review also available at the TBR Mountain Range
Oct 04, 2012 Katrina rated it really liked it

The unfinished garden is a contemporary romance filled with characters that are certainly not flawless, they have issues in life and within.

We are shown well detailed and in-depth insight into the characters, as well as broaching the subject of mental illness and grief.

Tilly lost her husband three years prior and now is now getting on with life the best she knows how and looking after their eight year old son Issac. Tilly is self employed running a nursery and doing what she loves best, bein
Beth Browne
Jan 27, 2014 Beth Browne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2012 Shirley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The garden is the perfect metaphor for the change, growth, potential and obstacles the characters within An Unfinished Garden encounter. Ever changing with the seasons, growing, blooming, resting. All transferable to our lives.

"The English author H.E. Bates said that a finished garden is a dead garden. ... It'll take a lifetime. A garden's a work in progress without end." (page 363)

But then again, so are life and love works in progress. And as satisfying a thought that is, so is An Unfinished G
Kathleen Rodgers
Damaged people make for a rich read.

I was first drawn to Barbara Claypole White’s debut novel by two things: She writes about damaged people, something I can relate to, and it took her years of hard work and dedication to get her novel published by a traditional house, something else I respect as an author who’s been on a similar journey.

What I didn’t expect was to empathize and connect so well with the male protagonist, James Nealy, who suffers from OCD. Although I found Tilly a likeable chara
Erin Cashman
Aug 06, 2012 Erin Cashman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-pregnant
The Unfinished Garden is a beautifully written, heart wrenching love story. The novel centers on Tilly Silverberg, a young widow raising her son Isaac. She has a successful business that demands her attention, and which she uses as an excuse to hide from the world, and to escape the guilt she feels over her beloved husband’s death.

And then James Nealy, an attractive man who has retired young from his successful business as a software developer, shows up one night at Tilly’s house. James suffers
Mary Kubica
Sep 10, 2013 Mary Kubica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book, by the very talented Barbara Claypole White. As a recipient of many awards - all of which are well deserved! - The Unfinished Garden is a beautiful love story set in the idyllic English countryside. The characters are wonderful and genuine, each of whom I would love to spend an afternoon. They are all flawed in their own way, but none more than James Nealy, one of the two protagonists in The Unfinished Garden, who battles often disabling OCD throughout the pages of ...more
Sep 14, 2012 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Unfinished Garden is so much more than a romance: White writes about two "damaged" people who find each other but must battle their own demons before they find a happily ever after. Tilly has lost her husband but loves her gardening business, and James is struggling with OCD and sees gardening as his shot at redemption.

Both good and bad reside in Tilly and James, two very real characters who aren't perfect and know it. Guilt and grief, change and redemption kept me turning the pages of this
Sharon Chance
Jan 27, 2013 Sharon Chance rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In her novel, THE UNFINISHED GARDEN, author Barbara Claypole White weaves a gorgeous tapestry of a story that takes the reader on a winding road of tender romance. Claypole adds in elements of overcoming huge obstacles, conquering fears, and realizing self- worth in this tale that makes a pleasing combination that results in a lovely novel. The characters here are interesting and realistic and the settings of the North Carolina forests and the beautiful English countryside are charming. I highly ...more
Laura Busch
Oct 13, 2012 Laura Busch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an incredible journey into the life and mind of a person with OCD as well as the pain and healing of grieve. I could not put the book down!
I'd recommend it to everyone I know. The spot-on descriptions of how it feels to be OCD, as well as those about being grief-stricken make it clear that this is a story about people who are incredibly difficult to love. Love, love, love this book!
Harlequin Books
"White's story features believable characters who are struggling with their issues and finding ways to conquer them and live a normal life. She conveys the condition of OCD, and how it creates havoc in one's life and the lives of loved ones, with style and grace, never underplaying the seriousness of the disorder." RT Book Reviews, rated 4 stars
Priscille Sibley
The Unfinished Garden is a beautiful story. I don't read romance but the writing here is so textural and the voice is so rich that I fell into it and couldn't put it down. The story and the relationships have substance and it is the characters' enduring faults and strengths that make them so lovable. An absolutely lovely book, a memorable one.
Picking this one up, I wasn't sure whether I was going to LOVE it or not. I was pleasantly surprised; I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. This was definitely a feel-good read, but it wasn't as fluffy as some romance novels can be (not that there's anything wrong with that!) And when I say "romance novel," I'm not talking about a bodice-ripper. Think of this as more of a Hallmark movie with some mature conversations. What I really liked about this one was that the characters had depth ...more
Sep 14, 2012 ExLibris_Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

The Unfinished Garden initially centers around Tilly, a widow, who is raising her son and keeping up with a gardening business. Her meeting with James, who suffers from OCD, starts a journey that follows her to her native England. Although the premise of James following her overseas is a bit far fetched in my mind, his OCD was written about very realistically and he develops as a sympathetically flawed character. Although I never really felt connected to the people in the sub-plot, I di
Apr 14, 2013 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lauren Murphy
Oct 04, 2012 Lauren Murphy rated it really liked it
It’s been three years since the death of Tilly’s husband and since then, survival and being a ‘supermum’ to her eight year old son Isaac has been her sole focus. Tilly runs a small garden nursery from home and is happy with how the business is managing with no views to expand or work more closely with her clients.

James is a successful businessman who has retired at age 45 with plans to focus on improving his emotional and psychological health. Essentially he wants to overcome the OCD (obsessive
Julie Barrett
Jun 27, 2012 Julie Barrett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White
ISBN: 9780778314127
Tilly heads back to England with her young son to help with her mom who's had a fall and will be recuperating. It will be the summer and she just loves the combinations of flowers once she sees her hometown again. Her husband, a college professor has been dead for years. Her gardening has always sustained her.
Her house in NC is similar and others want to hire her to make their gardens like hers. James Nealy has OCD and won't take
Sam Still Reading
Sep 30, 2012 Sam Still Reading rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy light general fiction
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: sent by publisher
When I first opened The Unfinished Garden, I thought it would be a predictable story about a widow finding love again. How wrong I was! The novel is much more than a single storyline – it twists multiple lines about family, friendship, grief, health and love – in a pleasing package.

The novel opens on our protagonist Tilly, who is working in her garden/business, Piedmont Perennials. Her friend and colleague suggests she should expand what is an already successful business even further, but Tilly
Alison Bockus
Dec 03, 2012 Alison Bockus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Unfinished Garden was a really good read. It wasn't too hard to understand, and it was a very pulling story. Every chapter I read made me want to read more to see, to find out what DID happen to this guy in the past, why IS this person's mother like this?

I liked learning about British culture through this work. I have not yet gotten to visit London or England at all, and experiencing some of it through this book has helped shaped my views of the world better.

I personally hope Barbara White m
Dec 21, 2012 Betty rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book free from Reading Group Guides. If I had known it was a Harlequin I would not have requested a copy of it. The folks at Reading Group Guides are so generous with their wonderful books and this is the first I have not liked. But I am not a fan of pure romance. Mix some mystery in and I may well enjoy in but pure romance... not so much. This was a Harlequin so pure romance. I thought perhaps the OCD angle would save it. (I trained to be a therapist at one time so this intrigue ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 72 73 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Glass Wives
  • Better Than Chocolate (Life in Icicle Falls, #1)
  • Tower of Silence
  • Pursuing the Times
  • Bird's Eye View
  • The Trouble with Harriet (Ellie Haskell Mystery, #8)
  • I'll Take It
  • Long Time, No See
  • A Girl Like You
  • Fields of Gold
  • Return to the Beach House
  • What You Wish For
  • A Wedding in Great Neck
  • Binny for Short (Binny, #1)
  • Sweet Nothings
  • Click
  • Everybody Says Hello
  • Summer Vows
English born and educated, Barbara Claypole White lives in the North Carolina forest with her family. Inspired by her poet/musician son’s courageous battles against obsessive-compulsive disorder, Barbara writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Her debut novel, The Unfinished Garden, won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book, and The In-Between Hour was chosen ...more
More about Barbara Claypole White...

Share This Book

“Badby Woods in Northamptonshire, which dates back at least seven hundred years. The woods are carpeted with bluebells in spring and magical year-round.” 0 likes
“You needed jolts of fear, little hits of adrenaline, to appreciate the buzz of life.” 0 likes
More quotes…