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The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace - Review

Monday, January 23, 2017

I've decided that I'll review every book that I read this year here on my blog, although I'll make it clear when a book is not suitable for a teenage audience. I won't use the same questions as in my normal reviews, but if you would like any questions answering please do ask them!

I got this book on Netgalley and was scrolling through my Kindle when it caught my eye. I found it hard to get into but once I did I really enjoyed it. At the beginning of a novel, which is set in the 70s, a young couple with a baby turn up at Mabel's cabins in the Atlantic North East somewhere. After a few days, the man disappears, leaving the girl and the baby to fend for themselves. The girl, June, and the baby, Luke, end up moving into Mabel's friend Iris' property. Iris is a recluse, after the death of her husband many years earlier, and keeps her property locked against the world. She has a cottage in the garden where her daughter Claire, now estranged, lived, and where June moves into. The two women begin a tentative friendship.

There's no direct speech in the whole novel, just all reported speech. I found this quite hard to read and keep up with, but I liked how it meant that everyone got equal billing in the narrative, if you like. There's a lot about war and about grief, and about chosen family against biological family. The novel spans a lot of years in its telling, which I really liked too. In all, I liked the novel and am glad to have read it.

I think it would be a suitable novel for older teens. June is only sixteen herself, and the story of her background is one that modern teens would find interesting. There's some sexual activity, but not much, and very little swearing. For discerning readers, this would probably appeal. I gave it a deserved eight out of ten.

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