June 7, 2009
The French Gardener
The French Gardener: A Novel by Santa Montefiore
Quit on 5/25/09
A neglected garden. A cottage that holds a secret. A mysterious Frenchman (handsome, naturally). A family in need of some love. These elements are entwined in this heartwarming novel by the author reviewers consistently compare to Maeve Binchy and Rosamunde Pilcher.
It begins as Miranda and David Claybourne move into a country house with a once-beautiful garden. But reality turns out to be very different from their dream. Soon the latent unhappiness in the family begins to come to the surface, isolating each family member in a bubble of resentment and loneliness.
Then an enigmatic Frenchman arrives on their doorstep. With the wisdom of nature, he slowly begins to heal the past and the present. But who is he? When Miranda reads about his past in a diary she finds in the cottage by the garden, the whole family learns that a garden, like love itself, can restore the human spirit, not just season after season but generation after generation.
Wise and winsome, poignant and powerfully moving, The French Gardener is a contemporary story told with an old-fashioned sensibility steeped in the importance of family and the magical power of love.
Another gardening novel bites the dust! I love Rosamunde Pilcher, but the blurb has got it all wrong; this novel hardly comes close to her lovely writing and endearing characters. After close to a hundred pages, I decided I'd given it my best effort. Perhaps given more time, I would've come to care for the characters, but after just 40 pages, I was annoyed with Miranda (the self-absorbed mother), Gus (the bratty, cruel son), and David (the pompous cheating ass of a husband). I kept going, but finally had to call it quits. Life's too short! Time to move on.