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The Memory Garden

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3.50  ·  Rating details ·  1,535 ratings  ·  257 reviews
Winner of the 2015 LOCUS AWARD for Best First Novel..".A SUPERB FANTASY NOVEL." - The Chicago Tribune

In a beautifully written tale woven together with magic and mystery, flowers and food, Bay Singer finally discovers the secrets her mother has been hiding.

Bay Singer has bigger secrets than most.

Not that she knows about them. Her mother, Nan, is sure that the burden of
...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark
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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,535 ratings  ·  257 reviews


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Carl V.
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is disappointing to sit down to write a review after a satisfying reading experience only to discover that the words that most readily leap to mind are those so stripped of meaning by overuse that they are rendered virtually powerless. Such is the nature of the hyperbolic overuse of adjectives.

World Fantasy and Crawford award winning short story author M. Rickert’s debut novel, The Memory Garden, is a book that leaves this amateur reviewer keenly aware of his inadequacies when it comes to
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Stephanie
This book is BEAUTIFUL. Haunting (both literally and figuratively), filled with wonderful characters and food and flowers. Pretty much recommending it to everyone.
Kali White
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deeply enjoyable book by author Mary Rickert rooted in lovely garden and food imagery. A story of women and friendships, motherhood and childhood, and the damaging, repressive nature of secrets. A pleasure to read for the beautiful writing alone.
Diane S ☔
3.5 A quirky and entertaining read with some serious issues underneath the surface. Would love to have these people be part of my family. Ghosts, witches, shoe gardens, and the most sumptuous sounding dinner as well. Each chapter begins with a type of flower or plant, their meanings and uses.

The characters are wonderful, fun and each with a hidden fact of their life waiting to be uncovered. The relationship between mother and daughter, tragic secrets from the past that need to be brought out
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Meg - A Bookish Affair
"The Memory Garden" is the story of Nan, an eccentric woman who may or may not be a witch. One day, she finds a baby left on the steps of her home and takes her in to raise her. When Bay becomes a teenager, Nan finally believes that she needs to tell Bay her origins and that she may be more than meets the eye too. Nan calls on two old friends to help her show Bay what she is. This book is a quiet one filled with magical realism.

This book was sort of a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I absolutely
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Christopher
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the privilege of reading this novel before its publication date. It's absolutely stunning, with beautiful poetic prose, full of everyday magic, a seriously unique conflict, and a bridge between generations. If you like the novels of Alice Hoffman, you'll like Mary Rickert's first novel, The Memory Garden, EVEN BETTER. Make sure to add it to your to-read queue for May, 2014!
Lauredhel
May 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, netgalley
Tears, all the tears, but not in a bad way. Yes, there is death and dying, but there is hope and forgiveness and mother-love and the affinity and bickering between old women. There is memory and forgetting and snow and sunlight and ghosts and a doorstep-baby and the echoes of ancient crimes. There is herb-lore and fertility choice and witchery and a shoe garden and a society that does not approve.

Infused with food and woven with flowers, The Memory Garden is an absolute delight.

A few quotes.
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Deb
This was a nicely written story but ultimately not the book for me. The Memory Garden is about three friends who reunite after many years. Nan, Ruthie, and Mavis haven’t seen each other since their teens, when their other friend Eve died in a clearly traumatic but unknown way.

Nan has an adopted daughter, Bay, who is a teenager and was left on her doorstep as a baby. Nan is worried she might not be able to care for Bay, since there's a sheriff poking around who clearly has some unsettled
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Rhiannon Johnson
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've pitched this novel as Practical Magic meets Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood with a dash of White Oleander: A house on the outskirts of town, a baby left on a doorstep, a secret from the past, and a reunion of friends. Each chapter begins with a short excerpt on a flower or herb and the powers it holds. Several are noted as abortifacients and there is an underlying theme of abortions (herbal and medical) throughout the novel.
"There were so many for a while there, and then, when the law
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Kathryn
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If the lovely language, magical setting, herbal lore, and intriguing intergenerational cast feel like they might not be enough to keep you turning pages, I urge you to hang in there until the end with this lovingly wrought tale. This is the nature of secrets kept: we can't know what the problem is—we just know that a character is deviled by it. But hints throughout lead to Rickert's heartbreaking revelations at the end of her tale, leaving this reader thinking for a long time about why we choose ...more
Jen
Loved it

Love the mystery, the magic, the love. A great story about friendship, loss, and being there for the ones you love the most.
Mary Beth Seefelt
Beautiful read- in so many ways. The kind of book you want to hug after you've read the very last word...and whisper "thank you".
Jennifer
Mar 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
It was a cute and fun book. At times I was a little confused, but I think most of the characters were also confused with each other. I enjoyed reading about the flowers and the different properties they possessed. Getting to know the characters was interesting because you didn't get the whole story until the very end. I loved the idea of the shoe garden. The book had a magical quality to it, especially with all the talk of ghosts, witches and continuously blooming shoe gardens.
Randolph
I abandoned this one. Not a bad book; strong female characters in a coming of age story. But, it’s obviously a YA book and I don’t do YA. I was a teenager waaaay too long ago.
Yolanda Ruckh
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.
Ian Mond
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert might be a début novel, but anyone who has read Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine in recent years, or keeps in touch with the plethora of Years Best anthologies, will be aware of M. Rickert’s quirky, unsettling, brilliant short fiction. For a number of her fans, myself included, the publication of her first novel is something to cheer about.

Unfortunately the novel is rubbish —

— I’m kidding, it’s fantastic. It’s so good that I’m a little sad the book hasn’t
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Lesa
If the publicist for Mary Rickert's blog tour for her debut novel, The Memory Garden, hadn't

already enticed me into reviewing the book, one line of the author's biography in the book might have drawn me in. It reads, "There are, of course, mysterious gaps in this account of her life, and that is where the truly interesting stuff happened." How can you resist that line?

Or what about this line from the book? "How do the girls with dreams as big as the world end up old women with regrets?" The
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J Elsie
ALMOST 3 STARS.

The Memory Garden created a lot of warm spots for me. I loved the complexity of the relationships in this book - how young girls feel about each other while they're young and the way life takes them away from one another as they age. Although an extreme circumstance came between Nan, Ruthie and Mavis, the idea of "one fight", misunderstandings, and misguided accusations breaking up valuable friendships is relatable to many readers, I'm sure.

In some ways I enjoyed the flower
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Ionia
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To sum this book up in a single statement is nearly impossible, but if I had to come close, I would say "curious."

If you like magic realism, then you will most likely love this book. However, if you like things that are more straightforward with characters that reveal themselves to the reader easily, this might not be your cup of herb-laden tea.

When I first started this book I was amazed. This author has some truly incredible quotes in this book. They are the kind that you want to repeat to
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Madolyn R.
This is part of my personal 2015 reading challenge. This is #46 - A book by an author with the same initials as yourself.

The actual story is only 284 pages (as opposed to the 304 pages long it says it is on here). It took until page 192 for it to grab my interest. For last 92 pages I very much enjoyed this book. The rest that didn't capture wasn't particularly bad, just not great either. I couldn't feel any real emotion as I read through the book. It was on page 192 where I caught myself and
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Leah
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What frightens Nan is the way the past sneaks up on the present, consuming all in its path.

Give me a story featuring a young adult, who doesn't quite know the person she is yet or what she wants to do with her life, living with an old woman, who has secrets to tell and wisdom to bestow, set in a small town in which the two rank highest on the gossip hounds' list, and I'm happy as a petunia in early July. The Memory Garden was that, times 100.

I loved how every chapter started with a plant
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Leah
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical
Nice, if you like this kind of thing.

A nicely-written heartwarmer, a book club shoe-in, a slightly magical-realist feast.

It was nice to read a fairly uncomplicated story of family troubles and secrets, but it's not really what I look for in my magical books. The big-secret-reveal story, the how-much-trauma-can-we-fit-into-one-past story, it's very Jodi Picoult, very Steel Magnolias, and very not for me.

If I thought I would actually add another book to it, I would create a shelf called lit-lite
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Haddayr
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is BEAUTIFUL. Captivating. The best sort of witches you can imagine. Deeply rooted in wonderful garden and food imagery. Incredibly important -- this is a book about women and friendships, and the history of how the rights of women affected friendships. It's about motherhood, and childhood, and about secrets and how much they can hold back and damage you. It's about beauty. SO beautifully written. Like poetry, like a gorgeous perfect glass of wine, like chocolate. It is not surprising ...more
Jenny OH
A calm, quiet book despite the turmoil, guilt, death, secrets, and possible murder. A meditation on the nature of parenthood, aging, and friendship. While there was no climax, per se, and all the action takes place within a house and its gardens, it was satisfying to see the characters develop and come to a better understanding of themselves and each other. While there are supernatural elements, it's not overtly a book about witches or ghosts (though both of these play key roles, it doesn't ...more
Carla Hostetter
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly derivative of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Adddison Allen, still the author does an excellent job of contrasting the innocence and confusion of youth with the wisdom and regrets of old age as Nan, nearing eighty and possibly a witch,raises the girl child covered in a caul that she found on her doorstep. Seeking help with Bay, Nan summons two old friends from the past who also might be witches to her rather enchanted house surrounded by a garden where magical plants grow in shoes once thrown ...more
Vicki
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have given this book 3 stars, had it not been for the ending. Also, a positive for me is that the characters are mostly women with a shared problem, and it wasn't whiney. It is a book about aging and also a coming-of-age story about the young girl, Bay, who was adopted by Nan. Nan was good with growing herbs and treating with herbs so the townspeople thought she was a witch. There were also ghosts coming and going. The theme was forgiveness, especially forgiving yourself. I was confused ...more
Clare
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I might have rated this book higher had I not just come from reading Sebastian Barry's "Sacred Scripture,: with its extravagant attention to detail and beautiful language.That being said, I eventually got into this one and enjoyed the atmosphere it evoked with an abundant garden of fragrant flowers and the meals prepared by the eccentric assortment of women who have gathered to exorcise a past sin that has kept them separated for 60 years, and their effect on a younger generation. It is ...more
Teri Ahlm
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Memory Garden has wonderful characters that I enjoyed getting to "know"!

The teen girl, Bay, and her adoptive mother, Nan, lead a unique and interesting life where Nan is thought by locals to be a witch. Although they are socially isolated from their community, they carve out an authentic life for themselves. Throw in a few eccentric older ladies that are friends of Nan (think Earth Mother hippies meet Golden Girls) and an old mystery to keep you interested in their story as young girls - and
...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-my-best-of
A dare you to find a novel published in 2015 with a more fabulous prose and with better characters than Memory Garden. It is a joy that the fantastic literature can produce such different books like Game of Thrones and Memory Garden. However, if you'll tell me that you've read and enjoyed A Song of Ice and Fire series, you'll never make an impression on me because everyone has read it and it is easy to enjoy. But, if you'll say the same things about the Memory Garden, I will know so many things ...more
Eastendleo
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What did I think?

I almost never re-read. The Memory Garden is one I will.

I will be gifting this book to several people (and me!). It will make them very happy.

Reading the reviews, I am reminded (againandagainandagain) that book selection is gendered. And men really do miss out.

Unsuspectingly reading away, I was surprised by happiness and startled by laughter. Many times. And brought to tears. Once by explosive guffaws.

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Sirens Conference: The Memory Garden 1 8 Aug 29, 2018 12:15PM  

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M. Rickert also writes under the name Mary Rickert. How did this happen and why, you might ask. It is a reasonable question but that does not mean the answer is reasonable as well. There was a time when M. was a young writer, scribbling in notebooks and on the back of envelopes, who thought she wanted to disappear behind the stories she wrote. (She still feels that way, and rather enjoys writing ...more
“Life is what you remember, Nan thinks as she shoves dirt into the old sneaker. Who can remember everything? Well, no one, and that’s a blessing. Life is and always has been a composition, much like this garden; it will not be contained and cannot be determined.” 4 likes
“You're one of them thinking girls, ain't you? I once knew a girl kinda like you.” 1 likes
More quotes…