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

Oct 6, 2012


There is something really dumb about buying more books when you're about to pack up over 600 of them into boxes for a move (and that's not counting the two-hundred-odd children's books, either!) But I just can't resist the annual library sale. Here's what I came home with:
A few board books for the little one- I like Maisy (and she enjoys lift-the-flaps right now), she likes chickens (says "bawk-bawk") and the numbers one is cute.
My stack. A few notes on them.

Rivethead by Ben Hamper- I swear this book used to be in my house, but I let it go for some reason. Finding another copy made me intrigued to try reading it again, dunno if that will be fruitful or not.

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist- I liked the film (and I don't usually care for vampire stories); have heard the book is good too.

The Devious Book for Cats and The Dangerous Book for Dogs by Joe Gardner et al- these look like fun, and I was tickled to find them as a pair. Remind me of Paul Gallico's book The Silent Miaow- instruction manuals for pets. Looks very humorous.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman- I think this one was on my tbr already, seen it on a blog somewhere. It's about how the earth might change if humans disappeared.

Herbal Medicine by Dian Dincin Buchman and The Honest Herbal by Varro Tyler- as my garden is getting reduced to a patio collection mostly of herbs, I thought I might learn a bit more about their uses.

Seasonal Guide to the Natural Year- this looks good! A book about my region- the mid-atlantic- telling you what to expect/observe at different times of the year in nature.

The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden- another book I'm suspicious is on my tbr list, its title looks so familiar. It's handwritten notes with beautiful sketches of plants, birds and other small wildlife. I can't wait to peruse this one.

Minerals: Gifts from the Earth by Julie Kerr Casper-  okay, not really sure why I picked up this one. I guess I was amused to see a book about my friend's hobby, written by someone who has his name as their last name. I might even read it- it's a junior non-fiction book so can't be too difficult on a possibly boring subject. Hm.

The final book at the bottom of the stack was turned sideways to make a nice base and I forgot you wouldn't be able to see the spine. Perspective Sketches. It's an art book of drawings by Theodore Walker. I was interested in them because of the different styles of buildings, trees, linework and materials. I'm not too good at drawing architecture or trees but would like to expand my skills, so it's nice to have something inspiring to look at.

That's it! As usual most of these books will probably sit on my shelves for weeks, months, perhaps even years before I read their pages. But they have a home with me now.