From the only author to have won both the Man Booker Prize and the Carnegie medal for children’s fiction, this meditation on gardens offers a mix of history, personal reflection, and readings of literature and art featuring this peculiar green space.
Well aware of the difference between patrician gardening in the grand style and the more plebeian approach of cottage gardening, Ms. Lively appreciates both. She glides through a review of history, from the Garden of Eden through ancient civilizations to the earth-moving landscape approach of Capability Brown and Humphry Repton ... For readers already well versed in garden history and writing, she might seem to cover a lot of familiar ground, but she does so in her own delightful voice. In the hands of a less skillful writer, this romp through so many subjects might seem haphazard, but because she is both so informed and idiosyncratic, Life in the Garden feels like a fascinating conversation with a valued friend. The author grows philosophical as she thinks about time and how gardens provide refuge, an escape from the press of daily existence.
Lively has been a voracious gardener her entire adult life, and it shows in her nearly encyclopedic knowledge of gardening. Yet this is not a traditional gardening book. You won’t find tips for slug removal, growing roses or mulching. And thank goodness for that, because Lively has so much more to say about the relevance of gardens ... Lively’s trademark British wit makes several delightfully acidic appearances, but Life in the Garden is also at times almost unbearably poignant, coming as late as it does in the life of the wonderfully prolific author.
It is a rambling and informative celebration of life, human and vegetable ... in this wise and perceptive book, she considers changes in gardening fashions and the way that gardens have been represented by artists...as well as novelists and writers ... She offers up her favorite plants and her pet hates with wry humor, and beats a drum for the importance of gardening for the body, soul and local community.