#BookReview THE GHOST IN THE GARDEN by JUDE PIESSE #20BooksOfSummer2021



This is book 20 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

ABOUT THE BOOK


The forgotten garden which inspired Charles Darwin becomes the modern-day setting for an exploration of memory, family, and the legacy of genius.

Darwin never stopped thinking about the garden at his childhood home, The Mount. It was here, under the tutelage of his green-fingered mother and sisters, that he first examined the reproductive life of flowers, collected birds’ eggs, and began the experiments that would lead to his theory of evolution.

A century and a half later, with one small child in tow and another on the way, Jude Piesse finds herself living next door to this secret garden. Two acres of the original site remain, now resplendent with overgrown ashes, sycamores, and hollies. The carefully tended beds and circular flower garden are buried under suburban housing; the hothouses where the Darwins and their skilful gardeners grew pineapples are long gone. Walking the pathways with her new baby, Piesse starts to discover what impact the garden and the people who tended it had on Darwin’s work.

Blending biography, nature writing, and memoir, The Ghost in the Garden traces the origins of the theory of evolution and uncovers the lost histories that inspired it, ultimately evoking the interconnectedness of all things.


PUBLISHED BY SCRIBE UK

MY REVIEW


I found this to be a refreshing and illuminating memoir, combining the fascinating life of Charles Darwin and his family alongside that of the author who finds herself living nearby to his childhood garden at The Mount in Shrewsbury. She’d often walk past the property and the land that is now run partly by The Shropshire Wildlife Trust and she becomes intrigued by the impact that the garden may have had on his outlook and interest into the natural world that he took on to bigger things as he grew up!

It really brings to life the upbringing that Charles had – the dynamics of his family and the areas they lived in – and used letters and diaries from the family so well to bring them to life, so to speak! We get a real insight into the goings on at the time, and the role that those around him had on his interest being piqued on all matters to do with animals and the environment they were living in, and what could be learned.

Alongside his story, we see into the life of the author as she brings up her children to be just as interested in wildlife, encouraging them to explore with her on walks in the local area. She becomes obsessed with learning all she can about him and the use of letters from his sisters was a great way of seeing how they kept him in touch with matters from home while he was off travelling. Having lost his mother at a young age, it seemed his siblings became even closer, especially with his father being so busy.

It also touches on the ongoing work to preserve his legacy and keep sharing his work with people in the area, and how a humble garden can continue to teach us about the past and how we can imagine the area being used by those who lived there and what impact they have on shaping a young mind, such as Darwins’, and how they continue to do so.

I learnt so much from this book and loved the use of diagrams, photos and drawings to illustrate and get a real feel of the area, especially for those who haven’t been to visit!


★★★★★


🥳🥳🥳


I’ve done it!! Completed another wonderful 20 Books of Summer challenge!! It took me a while to get going this year for some reason, and I didn’t think I’d make it at one point as I was reading lots of things that weren’t on my list!! Very helpful!! BUT I stuck to my game plan of attacking the Netgalley shelf and the 20 books I named at the start were the ones I managed to read!  Now if only I hadn’t added to the Netgalley shelf with yet more books over this Summer….. will I ever learn?!!


My thanks as always to Cathy at 746 Books who started all this 20 Books of Summer business off! I always love to take part and is it wrong of me to already begin counting down the days to the 2022 version??!!!!


HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview MADAM by PHOEBE WYNNE #20BooksOfSummer2021



This is book 19 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Light a fire they can’t put out…
For 150 years, above the Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises a future where its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher, is the first new hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose feels overwhelmed in the face of this elite establishment, but soon after her arrival she begins to understand that she may have more to fear than her own ineptitude.
When Rose stumbles across the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor – a woman whose ghost lingers over everything and who no one will discuss – she realises that there is much more to this institution than she has been led to believe.
As she uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, Rose becomes embroiled in a battle that will threaten her sanity as well as her safety…

A brooding, mesmeric novel with a feminist kick, perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman, Madeleine Miller and Margaret Atwood.

PUBLISHED BY QUERCUS

MY REVIEW

I wanted to really love this! The blurb sounded like my perfect kind of book!! And it started so promisingly that I was instantly taken with the setting and the mystery goings on in this illustrious school! I wanted to know more!! And quickly!!

BUT, then I started to fall out of love with some of the characters and found myself shouting at the book and situations that were playing out! I wanted the main character to get a grip, but she kept playing along despite what was going on! And as for the bratty girls she was teaching…… entitled and indulged little madams!!

The link with the classics were a really interesting twist and I would have liked maybe more of those playing out. I found myself wondering why they hired her in the first place as she was the first ‘outsider’ brought in for a number of years. And her outlook on life differed extremely from the rules and regulations of Caldonbrae Hall, an all girls boarding school where the young girls are brought up to do their duty!  There are strange goings on, and asking questions about the past isn’t encouraged whatsoever…. what exactly are they trying to hide?!

I wanted more of the darkness, more of the feisty attitude of a feminist teacher wanting to shake things up but unfortunately it fell short for me.


★★★

#BookReview THE STRANDING by KATE SAWYER #20BooksOfSummer21

This is book 18 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021 

ABOUT THE BOOK


Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life there is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.

As a new relationship becomes increasingly claustrophobic, and the discussions of impending political crisis are harder to avoid, she starts to dream of water; of escaping entwining tentacles through deep blue seas. She sets out to the other side of the globe to find that vision of freedom, and to decide who she wants to be when she returns.

But when she arrives at her destination, she finds instead that the world, and life, she left behind no longer exists.

Starting at the end and eventually returning there, with alternate chapters set Before and After, THE STRANDING is a story of how to make a life, what it is to be a woman, and what remains when everything we know is stripped away.


PUBLISHED BY CORONET


MY REVIEW

This is book 18 of my books of Summer 2021.

wow!! What a reading experience that was!! I’d heard so many good things about this book so I was a little nervous getting started, but once I was a few pages in I didn’t want to put it down!! You are just absorbed by the ‘before’ and ‘after’ storytelling style that talks of a catastrophic global event but never actually mentions what it is/was, and for me that really added to the magic of the story and how it involves you heart and soul!

At the centre of the story is Ruth! In the ‘before’ story, she’s involved with Alex and utterly besotted. Putting up with sly digs at her weight, being at his beck and call – she’s in deep and ignores the warning signs despite her friends and family being less enamoured of his behaviour. But as the time goes by, the reality of ‘his love’ for her shows itself in clearer terms and she finds herself going travelling to New Zealand. That’s one way to put distance between them!

In the ‘after’ storyline she’s in New Zealand and it’s a very bleak, isolated world. She’s on a beach with a dead whale and a stranger watching her. It brilliantly portrays the abject fear she must feel, alongside that ‘must not give up’ attitude that needs to find within to seek some hope in this new world. With the stranger making himself known to her, we then follow their struggles to survive in the situation they find themselves in.

I just can’t stop thinking about this book! It has a storyline that is a little different from the norm with intriguing characters and situations! I found it to be beautifully written, full of hope alongside the despair of the circumstances that this book portrays and it’s definitely one of my books of 2021!


★★★★★