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The White Garden: A Novel of Virginia Woolf

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  794 Ratings  ·  179 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
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Bantam
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Carl Brookins
Aug 03, 2010 Carl Brookins rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 01, 2009 Dorothy rated it liked it
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
Nov 05, 2009 Sheila rated it did not like it
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
Aug 05, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
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
Ginnie Leiner
Jun 05, 2015 Ginnie Leiner rated it it was amazing
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.

Feb 09, 2015 Eugene rated it really liked it
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
Jan 18, 2010 Sandy rated it liked it
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
Jun 08, 2015 Ami rated it it was ok
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
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
May 07, 2011 Jamespc rated it did not like it
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
Oct 11, 2009 Suburbangardener rated it really liked it
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,
Jan 01, 2013 Julie rated it did not like it
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
Aug 04, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
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
Dec 22, 2009 Juliet rated it did not like it
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.
Dec 20, 2016 Jane rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 05, 2010 Julia rated it it was ok
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.
Sep 09, 2013 Ffiamma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: donne, americana
niente più che un divertissement per appassionati di virginia woolf. la trama è stiracchiata e improbabile, i personaggi vagamente macchiettistici ma le descrizioni di sissinghurst sono belle e si percepisce un certo rispetto per la materia trattata. insomma, prescindibile ma decente.
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.
Jun 30, 2017 Carmen rated it really liked it
Shelves: popular-fiction
Jo gets a prime job. She's a landscape designer and has been asked to re create the "white garden" for a client. And the gardeners at Sissinghurst allow her to go examine their work. The day before she leaves, her grandfather kills himself. She's shocked, because she had just told him that she was going to the place of his birth.
And this is how the mystery starts. She finds herself in a big puzzle, trying to figure out just what is going on. Virginia Wolf is there and present, because all the c
Mar 03, 2017 Pam rated it it was ok
I just never really connected with this novel. There were parts where I thought I would just quit and then things would pick up and I thought I wanted to know the outcome but this is one of those books that is somewhat based on fact and that just kept throwing me off wondering what parts were true and what was fiction. I never really cared about any of the characters although I did get a kick out of Imogen. I don't feel like I gained anything from it, not even very good entertainment. I'm assumi ...more
Ash Bruxvoort
Dec 27, 2009 Ash Bruxvoort rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2013 SIMON Karine rated it liked it
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
Aug 22, 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
Mar 25, 2011 Antonia rated it liked it
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
Feb 12, 2014 Colleen rated it liked it
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
May 27, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it
"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'
May 07, 2015 Rachael rated it really liked it
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
Jan 14, 2014 Catherine rated it really liked it
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
Mary Anne
Oct 10, 2009 Mary Anne rated it really liked it
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
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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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