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Friday, September 15, 2006

R.I.P. # 3 Death in the Garden

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Elizabeth Ironside's Death in the Garden was a pleasure to read. Danielle, didn't you read this earlier this year? I really enjoyed Ironside's prose, and the two narratives, one in 1925 and one in current time.

Interesting that there are some similarities here with Lolly Willowes. The idea of a woman's place being at home in servitude to house and home and a self-righteous, domineering male are present in both. The differences in the novels are huge, for example, Laura's brother is domineering and conventional, but not in any way violent or verbally abuse as is George Pollexfen when crossed.

George's view that his wife should not have a career provides a catalyst for Death in the Garden.The story opens with Diana Pollexfen's unexpected acquittal of her husband's murder. No one is more surprised than she.... The story then quickly moves to the days preceding George Pollexfen's death and the arrival of various friend's for Diana's birthday.

Part III introduces Helena, a London solicitor, and her life in contemporary London. When her Great-Aunt Fox dies, Helena must go to Inglethorpe where she discovers that 67 years ago, her Great-aunt had been accused of the murder of her husband. When Helena realizes that she has inherited Inglethorpe, she decides she needs to know whether or not her Great-aunt was really guilty. Reading old journals, Helen realizes that she knows very little about her Aunt's life and sets about learning more in the hopes of proving her innocent.

Helen's life has its own complications that need to be resolved, but she is committed to her project, and aided by her cousin Simon and his wife Marta, she begins unraveling relationships in the past.

She often does not know what to make of the journals: " she read the extracts from different decades, Helena could not decide whether she was reading an honest account meant for no eyes but the writer's, a work of fiction, or a self-deception. Did anyone keep a diary meaning no one else to read it? She doubted it. It might be written as therapy, a means of objectifying one's life for one's self, but the act of writing, however secret, implied a reader, known or unknown, one day, sooner or later" (213).

Elizabeth Ironside (Lady Catherine Manning) is an author I want to read again, although I may have to search to find copies of her earlier books.
Here is a link to an interview on American University Radio. The interviewer's voice is ... well, annoying.


  1. Jenclair--Yes, I thought this was a wonderful mystery. Well written and well paced. I like how she started out with the two friends coming on the train to visit. She does a nice job of getting into the story, and before that even you know she is on trial for murder. She gets your attention, but then slowly tells the story. I am not sure how many other books she has written? I would definitely like to find some other books by her.

  2. Danielle, American publishers only seem to have Death in the Garden, but she's written several others. I'm sure that with the acclaim this novel has received, it won't be long before places like Amazon stock her others, but at the moment, only the one is listed.

    Carl, I'm feeling pretty good about having 3 down. I started Wilkie Collins' Haunted Hotel today (finally). It isn't very long--nothing like The Moonstone-- and has started off quite well.

  3. Jenclair, you always introduce such interesting reads. Just checked our library's online catalog. They have this book on order, so maybe I'll get to read it for a RIP bonus. Lady Catherine has had a very interesting life so far.

  4. Booklogged, I think you'll like it! We have similar tastes in mysteries. I'm planning on quite a few bonus reads since I like mysteries, thrillers, and gothic.

  5. roo - When I ordered from Amazon in September (2006), Death in the Garden was the only Ironside available. I checked recently and 2 more are available now. Other sellers may have all 5.