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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden was written in 2002 and is Helen Humphreys' third novel. It tells the story of Gwen Davis, 35 years old, plain, unloveable, with a fondness for flowers and Virginia Woolf.  She lives in a boarding house in London, a city she loves, and works for the Royal Horticultural Society where she researches diseased parsnips. In 1941 London is being destroyed by the blitz and she volunteers to oversee a group of girls in the Women's Land Army who will be growing vegetables for the war effort on an estate in the British countryside.
She arrives in Devon a week after she was expected, having confused her dates, and discovers that the young women have arrived before her and that they have already established their own routines. A group of Canadian soldiers is billeted nearby while waiting to be assigned to active combat and the girls have been spending time with them.  Gwen develops a rapport with Jane, a Land Girl whose fiancé is missing in action and Canadian Captain Raley who is grieving the death of a good friend.
One day Gwen comes across a neglected and overgrown hidden garden on the estate and she takes on its reclamation as a personal mission. She is curious about the history of the garden and wants to know more about the person who put so much thought and care into planting it. 
This is the fifth Humphreys novel I have read and once again I am charmed by the rhythm and precision of her writing and the way she expresses so much in few words. It's a wonderful little book and I'm pleased that there are four more Humphreys novels and a work of nonfiction that I haven't yet read.

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