Oct 9, 2012

The Unfinished Garden

by Barbara Claypole White

I have finally finished a book! It was a good read. The story is about a recently widowed mother who immersed herself in her gardening business (a wholesale nursery) in order to escape her grief and guilt. Her husband died in a hospital, under circumstances which aren't revealed until much later, as the main character Tilly is having trouble facing them herself. She soon meets James Nealy, a very successful man with his own inner battles. He suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (and a myriad of other troubles, it seems) and has determined to finally overcome some of his deepest fears by creating a garden. He finds Tilly's nursery and is immediately affected by her garden; demands that she help him make one. Tilly refuses; she doesn't do landscape design. She thinks that's the end of it and moves back to England to confront a family emergency- her mother is ailing. Once there she feels immediately back at home, but is confronted by a host of new troubles- namely that her ex-boyfriend of many years is suddenly hanging around. And before long the unexpected happens when James shows up as well. It makes for a very interesting triangle as the three try to work out their feelings.

And that's what most of this story was about. James struggling to put aside his compulsions, and win Tilly's heart. Tilly trying to figure out what she wants, still grieving her husband and now faced with two very different men both of whom she finds attractive. There are other little dynamics in the form of her mother who seems to know everything that's going on, her best friend who is acting surprisingly chummy with both James and the ex-boyfriend, and her son who was one of my favorite characters- a very likable boy and surprisingly even-tempered considering all that he's going through. There wasn't nearly enough about gardening itself to suit me, but I did find the descriptions of life with OCD interesting. And the storyline had enough unexpected turns (in the relationship dynamics) to keep me curious about what would happen at the end. It was a light, satisfying read.

For once this was a review copy I accepted from the publisher, Harlequin. I was interested because this book dovetailed two of my reading interests- gardening and mental illness. I wasn't much disappointed in that, but I should have paid more attention to the publisher name and realized what I was really getting into was a romance! No real complaints there, it was light for a romance (in my opinion). That means no explicit scenes, just suggestions of what happens behind the closed doors...

I have two copies of this book available to give away! If you'd like to receive one, just let me know in the comments. Sorry, shipping to the US and Canada only. Giveaway ends 10/17/12.

rating: 3/5 ........ 364 pages, 2012

more opinions:
Good Girl Gone Redneck
Book Journey
Steph the Bookworm
Library of Clean Reads


bermudaonion said...

That probably has just the right amount of gardening for me. This sounds good to me - I'd love to be entered in the giveaway. kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

Literary Feline said...

The mental illness aspect of the novel caught my attention. I am not a big romance reader--or a gardener unfortunately--so I am not sure this would be a good fit for me, but I am glad you enjoyed it!

Jeane said...

Well, as only one person wanted the book, she's the winner! Bermudaonion, this book is coming your way!