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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace

I loved The Girl in the Garden.  

The characters whose stories weave themselves together in this lovely book are given up gradually.  Each character is isolated, by choice and/or circumstance.  Each one excepts or rejects the isolation in unique ways--and yet there are connections that exist, unyielding, even if not forcing themselves.

June, the girl abandoned with her infant at Mabel's seaside hotel, is the lynch-pin, not necessarily more important, but definitely the new arrival who has an effect on other characters both directly and indirectly.   

The long, meandering Faulknerian sentences pull the reader on--long prose sentences that have the sensation of poetry. Wallace captures so many lives in her prose (click, click, click--one image after another), like Claire's photographs, snapshots, but signifying more than the single slice of a photographic imprint.  

Wallace's writing contains a rare intimacy and immediacy, but the past is always present and slowly revealed.  

I loved all of the characters, those that figured largely in the narrative, and those whose appearances are secondary.  Like stream-of-consciousness, the reader flows with the events and with the thoughts, present and past, not sure where things are going or how things will work out, not expecting perfect endings, but hopeful.  

In spite of the circumstances--June abandoned; Mabel grieving for her husband; Claire independent, but yearning; Duncan afraid of betraying his duty; Oldman, an archetype of kindness and wisdom; Sam, disfigured in the Iraqi war; and Iris humiliated, remote and detached in her self-made fortress and sanctuary--in spite of all this, there is kindness and redemption.

Highly Recommended.

Read in Oct.; blog review scheduled for Jan. 15, 2017.

NetGalley/Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt

Literary Fiction.  Jan. 31, 2017.  Print length:  240 pages.


  1. Great review! I'm going to put this one on my radar and isn't that a beautiful cover too?

  2. I like the idea of a town pitching in to take care of an abandoned mom & son. Have you read Melanie Wallace before? I'm intrigued to read her. Too bad I have too many books checked out of the library right now; this one will have to wait until the next library trip in four weeks. :)

    1. No, she is a new discovery for me, but I intend to read more by her. A lot of stories going on in this one!

  3. So many new books to discover! Will keep this book in mind. Right now I'm overwhelmed with library books. ;)

    1. :) Like being overwhelmed with library books is a bad thing!