The Lost Garden
Author: Helen Humphreys
About The Lost Garden: During WWII, a horticulturalist discovers a mysterious garden while working at a country estate.
Review of The Lost Garden
Gwen Davis works for the Royal Horticultural Society in London, England, researching a cure for parsnip canker. She loves her adopted home but its destruction from the bombs of WWII are more than she can bear.
I do not know how to reconcile myself to useless random death. I do not know how to assimilate this much brutal change, or how to relearn this landscape that was once so familiar to me and is now different every day. I cannot find my way back to my life when all my known landmarks are being removed.
...from page 7
When the opportunity arises, she volunteers for the Women's Land Army. She will be in charge of a group of "Land Girls" at a country estate, growing potatoes for the war effort. After she arrives at the estate, Gwen discovers a mysterious, long-forgotten garden. Her attempts to restore it and to decipher its secrets have life-altering effects.
The book is set in 1941 but rather than being about the war, it's a book about the side-effects of war. Most of the characters are sad and damaged in one way or another. There's Captain Raley, a Canadian soldier who is billeted with his troops in the main house, awaiting orders. Jane, who smokes a lot, never eats, and is waiting for word about her fiance who is missing in action. And, of course, Gwen whose childhood left her with no self-esteem.
It's obvious that Humphreys is a poet. Her writing is lyrical, beautiful, and her characters leave a lasting impression. The book itself has an old-fashioned feel, antique even, with its smaller size and gorgeous cover. This is a book about longing and it is definitely worth reading.
Reviewed by Lynn Bornath, from the hardcover version.
- Karma Sawka, MostlyFiction.com, 01 January 2003.
- “Without being depressing, whiny or overly romantic, this story allows its characters to ask questions about love, loss and faith as their lives are turned upside down.”
- ‘Garden Glows.’ Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine, 22 August 2002.
- “Utterly beautiful.”
- ‘Green Gwen Grows Riper.’ Margot Livesey, NY Times, 13 October 2002.
- “What brings Gwen to life and makes this novel work is Humphreys's meticulous, lucid prose.”
- Kiirstin, A Book a Week, 26 May 2010
- “it certainly made an impression on me”
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Added 19 June 2007.
Updated 04 September 2013.