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Book review: The Gardener by Salley Vickers

On a recent visit to the library I found The Gardener by Salley Vickers, an author whose books I enjoy.

The Gardener is a novel published in 2021. Told in the first person, it covers a lot of ground. There are many fascinating characters with some unconventional views. Place is very important; the setting for most of the story is rural Shropshire, but other places are involved. Relationships within the family and the community play a part. There is mystery. I had to revisit the last few chapters as I hadn’t been paying attention and was unsure about some of the events.

The background to the story includes restoring a garden. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot.

Salley Vickers has written on her website about the circumstances which led to her writing this book.

I enjoyed The Gardener. In fact I have enjoyed all the books by Salley Vickers, which I have read including Miss Garnet’s Angel which I read long before I began blogging.

My other reviews are:-

Cousins

The Boy Who Could See Death

The Librarian

Grandmothers

Book review: Grandmothers by Salley Vickers

Book cover: Grandmothers with endorsements from Sunday Times and Philip Pullman

I borrowed Grandmothers from the library. At the beginning I found it rather slow as the scene was being set for three different families. I enjoy Salley Vickers’ writing and as I continued to read I found much to think about. A passage in which a child is asked to tell a grandmother about a book she has read, but is reluctant to do so as it would be a spoiler, was followed by a reply that the adult enjoyed reading stories when she knew what was going to happen. This prompted me to read to the end of the book, take a break and then reread it. I was glad that I did as I picked up details I had missed on my first impatient reading of it.

The views of the adults and the difficulties in their various families are interesting. An incident in Kew Gardens reminded me of a book I had read on BorrowBox, A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall. I didn’t review that book because some of the content was unsuitable for a blog intended for all ages.

The views expressed in Grandmothers about Jesus Christ’s death do not reflect Christian beliefs. I wonder how many people among the general public agree with the suggestion that it was Jesus’ fault that he died unnecessarily.

The Bible and the Christian creeds (statements of belief) teach that Jesus died to redeem humans, who were separated from God by their sinful nature. By his death, resurrection (rising from the dead) and ascension into heaven he provided the means of salvation so that people can live in relationship with God through the Holy Spirit (spirit of Christ).

Grandmothers is a gentle read. There are references to poetry and works of art. The characters are interesting and Salley Vickers obviously observes people’s characters and behaviour closely, giving her characters some of her insights.

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What I read in June 2019 (Part 1) The Librarian

I borrowed a hardback copy of The Librarian by Salley Vickers from the library on a recent trip to the city for a meeting of a writing group. I had been looking out for it as I have enjoyed other novels by this author.

Spoiler alert! Please skip the 2 paragraphs following this if you are like me and do not want to know much about a book before reading it. It took me a few days to read as I was busy with other things.

It is mainly a historical novel, being set in the 20th century! I hadn’t expected the librarian to be a children’s librarian. I still reread children’s books (or read them for the first time). In this story some of the books borrowed from the library affected subsequent events.

I was surprised when, towards the end of the book, I turned a page and found Part Two. This part is about how the lives of some of the children in Part One turned out. In particular two of them now over 70 years old, who had been good friends and then lost touch, compared their memories. They looked back on the events of their childhood with their adult understanding.

End of Spoiler! Salley Vickers has once more demonstrated her understanding of human nature.

There is a list at the end of the book of her recommended reading from the children’s library in the book. Some of the titles are new to me, but many are books I read as a child and have reread as an adult. I am going to reread Tom’s Midnight Garden, which I did not read until I had children of my own. It had particular significance in The Librarian and I can’t remember it at all!

Other readers of The Librarian may also wish to do some background reading.