The Lost Garden


The Lost Garden

Author: Helen Humphreys

Published: 2002

Genre: Fiction

About The Lost Garden: During WWII, a horticulturalist discovers a mysterious garden while working at a country estate.

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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.

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More Reviews

Karma Sawka,, 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.