endofmarch's Reviews > The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys
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Apr 18, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, gardens-flowers
Read from February 26 to March 07, 2011

I love stories about gardens, that involve gardens, or where the setting is in a garden. So I could not resist picking up this book and having a look at it. The story sounded interesting and intriguing as well. And oh, how I wasn't dissapointed. I got so much more than what I was expecting.

It's England, 1941, and London is being destroyed by the Blitz. Gwen Davis, our narrator and protagonist, is a 35 year old horticulturist. Solitary and better with plants than she is with people, Gwen nevertheless volunteers to move to an estate in the Devon countryside to lead a team of young women in growing crops for the war effort. There she finds herself overwhelmed at first by her inadequacy and lack of leadership. With time, her relationship with Jane, a young women waiting for her fiance missing in action, who loves too much and passionately and is a bit too wild, and with Raley, a Canadian soldier posted with the rest of his regiment in the house nearby, waiting to be deployed, will change her forever. She also finds a lost garden, hidden on the estate and take it upon herself to restore it and discover the love story it seems to tell, a story which, in a way, will become her own.

I loved Gwen from the start. Shy, solitaty, unsure of herself except when it comes to her knowledge of plants, she writes letter to Virginia Woolf in her head, and puts the volumes of The Genus Rosa (an encyclopedia of all the roses known to man) on her body when she lies in bed to calm herself. She grows and learns about love and loss and coming to terms with ones past and fear of intimacy. This novel is mostly about loss and love which are almost the same thing when you live in times of war. It deals with the fear of the soldiers about to leave, the fear of the ones left behing, the loss of home and family, and the things we cling to in an effort to make sense of things that just don't. But mostly, though, it was so brillantly and beautifully written. I love Helen Humphreys' prose, poetic and fluid, with moments of such intense beauty and truth at times. Sure sometimes it might have been a bit cheesy, but I never minded. It swept me up from the first page, and even though it lulled a bit in the middle, I still didn't want to stop reading. It wasn't a long novel at all, not even 200 pages, but it felt utterly complete, and still open to so much more. I borrowed this book from the library, but I think I'll buy it for myself so I can reread it as much as I want.
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Quotes endofmarch Liked

Helen Humphreys
“The heart is a river. The act of writing is the moving water that holds the banks apart, keeps the muscle of words flexing so that the reader can be carried along by this movement. To be given space and the chance to leave one's earthly world. Is there any greater freedom than this?”
Helen Humphreys, The Lost Garden


Reading Progress

03/04/2011 page 100
52.0%
03/04/2011 page 100
52.0% "this book is beautiful. I think I fell in love with it within the first two pages."

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