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The White Garden: A Novel of Virginia Woolf

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  770 Ratings  ·  176 Reviews
In March 1941, Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in England’s River Ouse. Her body was found three weeks later. What seemed like a tragic ending at the time was, in fact, just the beginning of a mystery. . . .

Six decades after Virginia Woolf’s death, landscape designer Jo Bellamy has come to Sissinghurst Castle for two reasons: to study the
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Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Published (first published September 29th 2009)
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Carl Brookins
Aug 03, 2010 Carl Brookins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I scarcely know how to begin, not something a reviewer should admit publically, I suppose. This wonderfully realized and written novel is a first class literary mystery. It deals with a three-week period in l941 that marks the end of a troubled life, the life of Virginia Woolf. It is serendipitous that this novel comes to my hand at a time that epitomizes a good deal of what she was all about. In a word, independence. Independence for women and independence for writers.

Virginia Woolf was an Engl
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Dorothy
As a gardener and an admirer of Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series, I was very interested to read this book. I can't say that it quite lived up to my hopes for it, but in the end, I did find it an enjoyable and interesting read for its historical touches and for the bits of gardening lore. Barron seems to have an instinctive feel for gardens and gardening and I wondered if perhaps she herself is a gardener.

The thread that this tale hangs by is Barron's imagining that Virginia Woolf did not in
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Sheila
Nov 25, 2009 Sheila rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I snatched this one up, first because the cover caught my eye, and second, the title led me to believe it was a work of historical fiction. After reading the back cover and learning that it's really a mystery set in modern times, I was still gung-ho to read it.There is a little bit of history--and that part I liked, though I have to wonder about its authenticity. But for me, the rest of it was awfully contrived--"awfully" as both an intensifier and as in "exceptionally bad and displeasing." I th ...more
Ginnie Leiner
Jun 05, 2015 Ginnie Leiner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book and it inspired me to learn more about Virginia Woolf. It addressed several of my favorite topic, gardening, England and WWII. Very good read.

Jane
Dec 20, 2016 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though I felt the mystery was a bit convoluted and forced, I gave this four stars because the chase to its conclusion was so enjoyable. I took longer than usual to read this book because I was so busy looking up information about the people and places in the novel. I have a passing familiarity with the Bloomsbury Group and this book has inspired me to learn more.
Susan
Aug 05, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this novel, which is written by a family friend, just after visiting Sissinghurst (the very famous gardens of Vita Sackville-West) where Virginia Woolf spent time. But I read it with some trepidation - I'm always nervous about any fiction involving Virginia Woolf because I'm such a purist about her - my adoration so deep - and so I took this on with some skepticism. As it turns out, I really enjoyed it. The sense of place in this novel is hugely important - and rarely have I had the pleas ...more
Eugene
Feb 04, 2016 Eugene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: featured, 2015

In 1941 Virginia Woolf drowned herself in the River Ouse. Six decades later, Jo Bellamy has come to Sissinghurst Castle, where Woolf's erstwhile lover Vita Sackville-West created the famous White Garden, which Bellamy has been commissioned to adapt for a client on Long Island in New York. But the day after she tells her retired gardener grandfather Jock about her prestigious commission, he commits suicide. As a young lad Jock had worked on the grounds at Sissinghurst, and knew both women; was th
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Sandy
Jan 19, 2010 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2, england, hist-fiction
Interesting for its history, however there are some really excruciatingly, annoying, narcissistic and self-serving characters and a central character is very irritating and weak...... oh well, rather on par with Barron's other lightweight "Jane Austen" mysteries. (written as I was reading)

(When finished) As I continued reading, I found myself more engaged in the story and the mystery. The history of Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, John Maynard Keynes, the 'Apostles' as they were known - a p
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Ami
Jun 08, 2015 Ami rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical, 2015
It was the "Virginia Woolf" in the title that attracted me to this volume. I was even happier to discover that it involved intrigue and mystery from WWII, scenery from one of my favorite places in the world, and a gorgeous garden. It began well enough and I was hooked rather quickly. It's not a large volume and I thought it would be done within just a day or two. However, by about halfway through it just became a slog and it took almost another month to finish. And that was after skipping a few ...more
Perrine
Ce bouquin fait partie d'un "summer challenge" lancé par le club de lecture de Victoria (blog: Mango&Salt) et répond au thème "Oublier le quotidien". Je n'ai pas l'habitude de lire des "romans policiers" ou des fictions. Je m'attache plus facilement aux personnages d'histoires "vraies". Je me suis tout de même plue à suivre les mésaventures du personnage central, Jo, que je trouve attachante car simple, naïve et sincère. Voyager au coeur d'un jardin, d'universités, de bibliothèques fut agréa ...more
Jamespc
May 07, 2011 Jamespc rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One would think that I would find a book about Virginia Woolf--any book, fictional or otherwise--to be entertaining. And yet this novel is poorly written, dull and ignorant of even basic details of Virginia's life. Only the portrait of the feminist scholar strikes me as having any entertainment value. The reader is presented with a mystery that turns out to be no such thing--by the end I wished only that all the characters had been butchered around page 30, when they were just starting to wear o ...more
Suburbangardener
Oct 11, 2009 Suburbangardener rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a plausible explanation for the time lag between the day Virginia Woolf left her husband a suicide note and the discovery of her body in the river several weeks later. The protagonist is a garden designer, visiting Sissinghurst to copy the design of the White Garden for a client when she finds a notebook entitled "Notes on the Making of a White Garden." It's actually a journal beginning the day after Woolf disappeared.
I'm always a sucker for books with a gardener as the main character,
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Julie
Dec 20, 2013 Julie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
How does one make gagging noises in print?

The tip-off, that this was going to be an atrociously painful read, occurred when "... Imogen Cantwell felt a sudden frisson of fear -- as though a serpent, in the form of this mild American woman, had suddenly slithered through Sissinghurst's garden." (page 17).

A dime-store romance novel disguised as a "serious" Virginia Woolf/Vita Sackville-West mystery.

Alas, poor Virginia! Alas, poor Vita! ... that their illustrious lives should be reduced to this t
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Lisa
Jan 31, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I really liked this mystery--in fact, I went back and read the last few chapters a few hours after finishing the first time through. It is as much about the modern characters as the ones from Virginia Woolf's period, and I liked the main characters quite a lot. We're not supposed to really like the secondary characters, I believe.

It's also refreshing to see historical fiction that goes into relatively fresh territory.

I've had Virginia Woolf on my list of authors to explore for some time; this
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Juliet
Mar 09, 2010 Juliet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have renewed this one from the library as many times as I can, thinking I wanted to finish it- even if I didn't much like it or care what happens to the characters. Why do we do this to ourselves? I wish that instead of being a book about a modern character reading an old journal this had been set in a re-imagined past entirely. Might have served the story better.
Julia
A fast read, with all the trappings of a creative literary mystery,romance and gardening novel all rolled into one. A great introduction to Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group for the high school set.
Elinor
3,5
Un mystère littéraire et historique très sympa, malgré un style pas toujours brillant, mais pour sa défense Le jardin blanc est passé juste après Un monde flamboyant, donc forcément ça n'aide pas.
Michele
Oct 05, 2016 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't claim to be a fan of Virginia Woolf, but I'm an admirer of Stephanie Barron's historical intrigues, and The White Garden: A Novel of Virginia Woolf is another example of her genius. Really interesting premise, about Wolf's final days, to build a novel around; lots of gratifying gardening scenes, London-Oxford-Sissinghurst-and-miscellaneous-villages-visited; a dash of romance; tied up with a satisfying happy-ever-after. If you're a Bloomsbury enthusiast, you'll enjoy the interwoven comple ...more
Diana
Dec 31, 2016 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really hard to put down! Lots of twists and turns as well as interesting historical facts about Virginia Woolf and the time in which she lived.
Ash Bruxvoort
Dec 27, 2009 Ash Bruxvoort rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephanie Barron's The White Garden is a fictional attempt to understand what happened to Virginia Woolf during the three weeks after Leonard read her suicide note and she was actually found in the river. I normally get hung up on things like facts and how true to the story an author is staying, but I could not put this book down. When Jo Bellamy tells her grandfather, Jock, that she is going to Sissinghurst Castle to copy The White Garden for a client he says all the right things. After all, it ...more
SIMON Karine
Je tiens tout d’abord à remercier Les Editions Nil pour leur confiance et pour m’avoir permis de découvrir ce titre en avant-première.


Dans ce roman, nous voyageons avec Jo, une jeune paysagiste américaine, jusqu’en Angleterre pour étudier le célèbre Jardin blanc, créée par Vita Sackville-West, une très proche amie de Virginia Woolf.

Virginia Woolf était une écrivaine Anglaise célèbre au début du vingtième siècle, mais aussi éditrice et critique littéraire. Elle fréquente la haute société londonie
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Alice
Sep 02, 2013 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mlle Alice, pouvez-vous nous raconter votre rencontre avec Le Jardin Blanc?

"Connaissant déjà Stephanie Barron pour ses livres sur Jane Austen, j'ai été très intriguée de découvrir qu'elle s'était également attaquée à d'autres illustres auteurs telles que Virginia Woolf et Vita Sackville-West."

Dites-nous en un peu plus sur son histoire...


"Jo Bellamy, paysagiste américaine, se rend à Sissinghurst, la maison ayant autrefois appartenu à Vita Sackville-West et célèbre pour ses jardins, afin d'y cop
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Antonia
Mar 26, 2011 Antonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I suppose the term "literary mystery" can mean one or both of two things: a mystery about a literary figure and/or literary production, or a mystery that is something other (or more) than a genre novel (examples include Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars). A. S. Byatt's Possession is really a literary mystery in both senses. The White Garden is certainly a literary mystery in the first. In the end, it is more plot-driven than one ...more
Colleen
I admit, I have never read any of Virginia Woolf's books and the only thing I know about her prior to reading this book was the movie which inserted her name into a childish rhyme. yes I know this is a fictional account of a sliver of Woolf's life, but its structure is true and which led me to research even more about her life and want to read her material. This is why I love historical fiction more than any other genre, it triggers a 'need to know' sense in your brain. You need to need how much ...more
Kate
Aug 22, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In March 1941, Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in England's River Ouse. Her body was found three weeks later. What seemed like a tragic enging at the time was, in fact, just the beginning of a mystery ...

"Six decades after Virginia Woolf's death, landscape designer JoBellamy has come to Sissinghurst Castle for two reasons: to study the celebrated White Garden created by Woolf's lover Vita Sackville-West and to recover from the terrible wound of her grandfather'
...more
Rachael
May 07, 2015 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I understand why reviewers may have disliked this book but I for one, thoroughly enjoyed it. It had a bit of mystery, history, romance and something I quite love...gardens.

I went in to this book knowing full well that it was fiction and a creative story surrounding the few weeks that Virginia Woolf disappeared/died and the discovery of her body in the river Ouse. The great thing about those weeks of a missing Virginia is that truly, anything could have happened. Could this account really be that
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Catherine
Jan 22, 2014 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book. I was enthralled by what the author imagine had happened during the days that stand between Virginia woolf’s drowning on March 28th, 1941,and the discovery of her body on the river Ouse’s banks near her home on April 18, 1941 . Superb imagination!
It is an unbelievable story of suspense, unearthed treasures, lifetime guilt, and hunt for the truth, beautiful gardens real or imaginary, and all that is hidden in lives throughout time. Her characters are vivid and so diverse, t
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Mary Anne
Oct 25, 2009 Mary Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having recently read about 17 mysteries over a span of 3 month, I decided enough is enough, and that I would move on to other genre. So I was in my local public library where I came upon The White Garden A Novel of Virginia Woolf. Now I ask, does that sound like a mystery? It didn’t to me. I was thinking along the lines of Michael Cunningham’s book:The Hours|11899]. Had I looked further, I would have noticed the clue that the author has also penned the Jane Austen Mysteries. Even though I have n ...more
Michelle Lewis
Oct 14, 2012 Michelle Lewis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In Memoriam: White Garden

I said she was a moth, fluttered spirit, delicate;/ That bumped against the lamp of life. No mention made/ Of how they tortured her, prey to nameless fears,/ With such exact descriptions of the night;/ Its quality, deception, unnumbered shades of grey;/ Crept in to suffocate the plangent souls she loved./ The glow of blanched flowers and pale birds/ Her soul security for sleep./ O Virginia, whose cobweb fingers trailed/ Among our thorns, jabbering in tongues and fractur
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Josi
May 29, 2015 Josi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fictionalized story of Virginia Woolf's mysterious and tragic death. It's well written, interesting, seems plausible, and packed with fascinating details regarding Woolf's life. The story takes place in modern day England but refers to a partial journal from 1941. I listed to the audio and the reader was wonderful and the writing was very well done and engaging. My favorite part of this story was the details--of the garden, of Woolf's life, of the people who were closest to her, and ev ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Stephanie Barron was born Francine Stephanie Barron in Binghamton, NY in 1963, the last of six girls. Her father was a retired general in the Air Force, her mother a beautiful woman who loved to dance. The family spent their summers on Cape Cod, where two of the Barron girls
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