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.
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.
Lively begins by exploring the garden’s place in art and literature (perhaps veering a tad too close now and then toward a book report) and then explores the changing fashions of gardening and what gardens may show about class distinctions. But glimpses of her own life appear throughout the book, often anchored by matter-of-fact juxtapositions of beauty and loss ... And so it seems in this mosaic of musings and memoir, art history and social commentary ... the book falls together beautifully, organically and carefully, like the English gardens Lively loves.