Good morning, everyone! I’m reviewing The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White today for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
From the publisher (and me):
James Nealy is haunted by irrational fears and inescapable compulsions. A successful software developer, he’s thrown himself into a new goal – to finally conquer the noise in his mind. And he has a plan. He’ll confront his darkest fears and build something beautiful: a garden. When he meets Tilly Silverberg, widowed too young, he knows she holds the key…even if she doesn’t think so. Tilly has found salvation in gardening and has been able to turn her passion into a business. The demands of her business and the care of her young son give her the excuse she needs to hide from the rest of the world. When James demands that she take him on as a client, her answer is a flat no. And the story develops from there.
Though I am a romantic, I tend to shy away from romance novels. But this one sounded intriguing – two damaged people meet and forge a friendship, in spite of and because of their individual fears and pain. I tend to believe we are all damaged in one way or another and that sometimes we are lucky enough to meet that person who understands us and helps us heal. These characters, beautifully written by the author, are trying their utmost to move forward, in spite of their pain. They are compelling, honest and raw and I found myself cheering them on.
They are surrounded by a wonderful group of supporting characters. The story takes us from North Carolina to Tilly’s native England. The settings – both in North Carolina and England – are written with great detail by Ms. White. The gardens, the flowers, the trees, the topography are so lovingly drawn, so vividly detailed that what emerges is not unlike a beautifully realized painting. When gardens and gardening are so much a part of the story, this attention to detail is greatly appreciated. The same attention to detail is given to each and every character. You cannot help but be drawn in to their world.
I never give away the plot. I will say that I love it when a writer creates characters that live and breathe and are real – warts and all. Barbara Claypole White has done that in this excellent novel.
About the author:
Barbara Claypole Write grew up in the English village of Turvey with big dreams of becoming a novelist. After a detour through women’s and medieval history at York University, she landed a job promoting London fashion. She was part of the first British Designer show, measured celebrities in their underwear, and worked for the queen of the international rag trade, Vivienne Westwood.
One day her boss sent her to New York, and she fell in love with an American professor who followed her around JFK airport. Eighteen months later, she was a faculty spouse, freelance writer and marketing director in Champaign, Illinois, a small Midwest college town. She also started writing her first novel – a love story set against the world of eighties fashion and AIDS.
Five years passed; then Barbara learned she was pregnant, and her husband was offered a distinguished professorship at UNC Chapel Hill. The family moved to the North Carolina forest and Barbara became a stay-at-home mom and a woodland gardener – factors that would shape her writing voice. She returned to her manuscript, took evening classes in writing at the local arts center and slammed into another detour; her young son developed obsessive-compulsive disorder.
From that moment, fascination with mental illness framed her life. She ditched her first novel and began writing Dogwood Days, which turned into The Unfinished Garden. She also joined a non-fiction project for parents of children with invisible disabilities and blogs through the highs and lows of OCD at www.easytolovebut.com. (Her son is now an award-winning teen poet.)
Barbara is consistently drawn to the theme that people who need each other find each other, and is hard at work on her next novel…when she’s not gardening.
There isn’t an official giveaway this time, but because of some delivery problems, I ended up with two copies of this book. Would you like a copy? Just leave a comment on this post and I will draw a winner on Friday night.