“A stone path led beneath an arbor of ancient roses with arthritic joints. The temperature cooled as they crossed the garden’s threshold. The overall impression was one of darkness and gloom. And quiet, an odd, still quiet. Even the noise of the irrepressible sea seemed dulled in here. It was as if the grounds within the stone wall were asleep. Waiting for something, or someone, to wake them.” Page 220.
I love that passage. It is a place I’d like to explore. So often the cool evenings on our front veranda are like this – quiet, peaceful, restful. Like this time of year when there is an expectancy in the air, of the emergence of new life, new leaves, new flowers, but not quite ready yet. When Spring is here, but Winter has yet to completely release its hold. It is a good time to enjoy some fresh air and a good book.
This book isn’t a page turner mystery, although there is a mystery to be solved. This book is more of a character study, slowly pulling the pieces of their lives together. There is not just one story, but three, interwoven and intertwined like the overgrown garden of the title. We go on a journey of self-discovery with Nell, as she tries to trace her true identity. We see the hard life of Eliza as she is thrown from one bad situation into another. We take up the search for the secret with Cassandra as she tries to reveal the final clue that her grandmother could not find. All three stories are told by switching back and forth through time. Interspersed within the stories are the folk tales of The Authoress. Reading like Grimm’s fairy tales, they are interesting bits and asides.
I highly recommend this book, a real keeper to be read again, wonderfully complex, with richly drawn characters. I’ll be giving my paperback to a friend to read and buying a hardback for the library shelf.