MyGoodBookshelf's Reviews > A Handful Of Earth: A Year Of Healing And Growing

A Handful Of Earth by Barney Bardsley
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's review
Apr 11, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, memoirs
Read in March, 2012

(This review also appears on

Elizabeth (`Barney') Bardsley nursed her husband Tim through terminal cancer for more than ten years before he sadly succumbed to the illness. This book is the story of her coming to terms with her grief and loss, aided by her love of gardening. Diarised, it reflects on Barney's past and present across the course of one year- with both poignant anecdotes about her and Tim's relationship and his illness, as well as what she is up to on her allotment and in her garden at the moment. Whilst the writing about Tim and her family is somewhat bittersweet, her attitude towards her garden is quite matter of fact in places, which adds a nice balance to the narrative. A keen gardener myself, I found her `lists of jobs' for the month to be very useful- and I picked up some great gardening ideas too!

I usually tend to avoid memoirs dealing with grief and loss because I find them too upsetting, but I was drawn to this book by the cover and the gardening aspect, and I am so glad that I gave it a try. The author has been through such a lot of sadness and consequently it could have been very easy for this book to get too mired down in sentiment or become overly heavy and maudlin in places- but the beautiful prose and attention to detail that the author pays to her garden and of her plants slowly creeping to life around her as the seasons change, ultimately ensures that this books final message is one of hope. I actually found this to be a very uplifting and engaging book to read. It is also a wonderful way for her to honour her husband's memory- I felt like I knew them both by the time I had finished reading.

Highly recommended. This is a book that will stay with me and will undoubtedly be a thought-provoking (and also possibly inspiring) read for many people out there.

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