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The Girl in the Garden

de Melanie Wallace

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467439,301 (4.08)1
"An unforgettable novel about a young woman and her infant son who are abandoned at a seaside motel in New England, the townspeople who provide them with shelter, and the secrets that all of them are keeping"--
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I'm not quite sure how to rate this one. I started it as an audio book on hoopla but it returned before I had a chance to finish so I bought the ebook and that was a mistake. I was really enjoying it up until the physical copy. Why would an author not use quotation marks for dialogue? It made me so mad. 3 ⭐️ overall since I enjoyed the story but why? Why ruin a good thing? ( )
  karenvg3 | Mar 19, 2018 |
Although I usually stop reading a book where the author refuses o use quotation marks but I swallowed and kept reading....and I loved this book. I DO want more---an epilogue would be lovely. ( )
  nyiper | Oct 26, 2017 |
During the mid-seventies, a group of lonely individuals is brought together to help June, a young girl and her infant son, Luke. The mother and child had been abandoned at a motel run by Mabel who is grieving the loss of her husband. She convinces her friend Iris, who has been a recluse since the death of her own husband many years ago, to allow the pair to stay in a small cottage on her property. Iris takes them in reluctantly, turning their care over to Duncan, her lawyer, who, in turn, introduces them to Oldman, a kind older bachelor, who takes them under his wing.

A few years later, Iris is terminally ill and her daughter, Claire, from who she has been estranged since her husband’s death, convinces Sam, a Vietnam vet severely wounded both physically and mentally, to drive her to visit with her mother, to help but also to learn about her father and why her mother abandoned her, like June, to the care of Duncan and Oldman when she was a teenager.

In The Girl In the Garden, author Melanie Wallace, has created a beautifully written, quiet, and moving story about abandonment, loss, grief, and ultimately redemption; how dysfunction and secrets within families can damage and how a community of strangers can come together to provide the emotional and physical shelter needed to heal.

Thanks to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review ( )
  lostinalibrary | Mar 6, 2017 |
I was interested in reading this story because it sounded like the kind of read where you can let yourself fall into the characters. The writing was beautifully descriptive. Almost poetic and filled with flowing prose. For some this writing style may be a turnoff, it just depends on what your tastes are. This story is not just about June and her abandonment. This novel is truly about the inhabitants of a community.

June and her baby, Luke, were abandoned and she is young. She has no options but Mabel, the owner of the motel where June was stranded, already knew that. When she first spied June, Mabel had already decided that she could not turn away her and the baby. With the help of her friend Roland they allowed her to stay for a time at the motel. Winter was coming and for personal reasons Mabel cannot have June stay with her. She is owed a favor from her friend Iris which leads to June and her baby Luke moving into a cottage on her property. Iris has been a recluse for many years and her taking in this girl and her child comes as a surprise to some.

June and Luke’s move to the cottage has a ripple effect on the cast of characters. For some it is June who affects them and brings up memories. For others, it is Luke who affects them and in some ways, brings them back to life. Through alternating narratives, you learn the stories of these characters. The author is very generous with background development on these characters. You truly cultivate an appreciation for where they came from and their struggles.

This book has no true conflict. This is truly a story about people and how life has turned out for them. This is a book full of “feels.” There is a high emotional impact that is created with each character. You will either feel it personally or in a detached manner but no one can read this book without feeling something, well except happiness. This is not a “happy” book but one filled with bitter sweetness. This is about loss, isolation, grief and hope. There are layers of kindness and decency spread throughout this story. It is truly a beautiful story.

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating. ( )
  TheGenreMinx | Jan 25, 2017 |
It’s the end of summer, and Mabel is about to shutter her guest cabins when a car drives up. Out come a teen aged girl with a tiny baby, and an angry, tired man who completely ignores them. Mabel rents them a cabin for a few days; she isn’t surprised when one day the man drives off and doesn’t come back. She allows the girl to stay on, then finds them a place to stay for the winter, in a cottage behind the house of a friend of hers, Iris. Iris wants no rent- in fact, she’ll give the girl money- she just wants a few chores done and she gets to spend a couple of hours a day with the baby.

Three years later, June and Luke are still living in the cottage. She’s made a couple of friends, and has created a life for herself, working for Iris as Iris gradually declines. She’s formed relationships with others in the small town. It’s a pretty decent life, if strictly circumscribed.

Then Iris’s daughter, Claire, returns. Not only has she been gone for years with no contact, but she moved out of the main house at 13 and lived in the cottage until she was 18 and could leave. During her teen years she was basically brought up by Duncan, a local lawyer, who signed her absence slips, took her to the doctor, and attended parent-teacher meetings- Iris was happy to turn over the raising of her child. She’s now a photojournalist- largely taught by Oldman, a photographer during WW 2- who has won awards and created a life that has nothing to do with the place she grew up in. Claire brings with her, as her driver, a badly battle scarred Viet Nam vet named Sam, a man who works at the soup kitchen that she also is associated with.

Everyone in this novel is mourning something; a spouse lost, a spouse better forgotten and the life they ruined, a childhood lost, their own looks lost. Everyone deals with loss differently, but they all have one thing in common: they have all withdrawn from the world to some degree. Who will be able to get over their loss and move on into life again?

I loved the writing; some reviewers have criticized the long sentences but I have no problem with them. I found it difficult to follow the dialog at times; the author doesn’t use quotation marks and frequently doesn’t identify who is speaking. But it’s not bad enough to be uncomfortable. I loved the descriptions of the area the story takes place in, and the mundane settings of everyday life. The narrative changes point of view with each chapter. It’s a rather lovely portrait of damaged people surviving as best they can, although some of the people seem almost too good to be true. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Jan 6, 2017 |
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