Category Archives: TBR pile

The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden, by Helen Humphreys, has been sitting on my book shelf for years. I love the cover, have looked at it many times just sitting there waiting for me, but it certainly took me a long time to get to the book. I don’t know why because I’ve liked every book I’ve read by this author! And this one did not disappoint me.

It is a wartime story, a story of sadness, loss, renewal, and the healing power of gardening. It was beautifully written, very poetic, as is every book Helen Humphreys writes.

from the publisher:

This word-perfect, heartbreaking novel is set in early 1941 in Britain when the war seems endless and, perhaps, hopeless. London is on fire from the Blitz, and a young woman gardener named Gwen Davis flees from the burning city for the Devon countryside. She has volunteered for the Land Army, and is to be in charge of a group of young girls who will be trained to plant food crops on an old country estate where the gardens have fallen into ruin. Also on the estate, waiting to be posted, is a regiment of Canadian soldiers. For three months, the young women and men will form attachments, living in a temporary rural escape. No one will be more changed by the stay than Gwen. She will inspire the girls to restore the estate gardens, fall in love with a soldier, find her first deep friendship, and bring a lost garden, created for a great love, back to life. While doing so, she will finally come to know herself and a life worth living.

Shortly after arriving on the estate, Gwen found a secret, long-neglected garden. It became her refuge, a place of solitude, a place where she could process the losses in her life and her hopes and dreams. As she slowly began to restore the garden to its original state, it became clear that it was a garden of love, designed for someone deeply loved.

What I’ve always found interesting in gardens is looking at what people choose to plant there. What they put in. What they leave out. One small choice and then another, and soon there is a mood, an atmosphere, a series of limitations, a world. I would not have chosen the same plants as the anonymous gardener if I were planting a garden of love, but there are some flowers we have in common. Peonies for loss. I too would choose the breaking wave of peonies for loss.

Although this is primarily a story about the healing power of gardens and coming to terms with loss, it is also filled with ruminations on writing, which I found fascinating.

When a writer writes, it’s as if she holds the sides of her chest apart, exposes her beating heart. And even though everything wants to heal, to close over and protect the heart, the writer must keep it bare, exposed. And in doing this, all of life is kept back, all the petty demands of the day-to-day. The heart is a river. The act of writing is the moving water that holds the banks apart, keeps the muscle of words flexing so that the reader can be carried along by this movement. To be given space and the chance to leave one’s earthly world. Is there any greater freedom than this?

This is a very interesting multilayered book which contains so much emotion and growth. I will certainly read it again.

 

 

 

I’m so glad I finally read this book for my 2019 TBR List challenge. I also chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book from United Kingdom.

The Book of Dragons

The Book of Dragons, by Edith Nesbit, is a series of nine dragon stories. Each dragon is a different color or made of different stuff, and each one causes different problems. These stories for children are fun. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as some of her others — I loved The Psammead Trilogy and The Railway Children. But if you enjoy dragon stories, or know a young one who does, I definitely recommend books by Edith Nesbit. She’s terrific.

From the Back Cover:

Dragons — of all sorts — make for marvelous fun, and this collection of madcap tales is filled with them. Some of the legendary monsters are funny and mischievous, others are downright frightening, and a number of them are wild and unpredictable. There’s a dragon made of ice, another that takes refuge in the General Post Office, a scaly creature that carries off the largest elephant in a zoo, and even a dragon whose gentle purring comforts a tiny tot. And who challenges these amazing creatures? Why, daring heroes, of course, as well as a wicked prince, and even an entire soccer team — which, unfortunately, meets its fate with a fire-breathing brute that flies out of the pages of an enchanted book.

H.R. Millar, E. Nesbit’s The Book of Dragons, North-South Books, 1900

TBR Pile Challenge 2019

Adam (@roofbeamreader.com) is hosting the TBR Pile Challenge for 2019,  and it’s his eighth year of hosting this challenge! I’m excited to be participating again in 2019. This year I managed to read 4 out the 12 books I had on my TBR list. For me, that’s success because those are four books finished that have been sitting on my shelf for years and years.

Here is how the challenge is structured. Be sure to go to the link to read the complete information about the challenge because I’m only including some of it here.

The Goal: To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months).

Specifics:
1. Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list for AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2018 or later (any book published in the year 2017 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile). Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile.

2. To be eligible, you must sign-up with the Mr. Linky below. Link to your list (so create it ahead of time!) and add updated links to each book’s review. Books must be read and must be reviewed (doesn’t have to be too fancy) in order to count as completed.

Thank you, Adam, for hosting this challenge and encouraging me to just go ahead and read those books!

Here’s my 2019 list of twelve TBR books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for an awfully long time:

    1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
    2. The Princess Bride, by WIlliam Goldman
    3. Some Tame Gazelle, Barbara Pym
    4. A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
    5. The Joys of Motherhood, by Buchi Emecheta
    6. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
    7. Clandestine in Chile, by Gabriel García Márquez
    8. Lonely Road, by Nevil Shute
    9. Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee
    10. Sons, by Pearl S. Buck
    11. The Book of Dragons, Edith Nesbit
    12. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther

Alternates:

  1. Hannah Coulter, Wendell Berry
  2. The Lost Garden, Helen Humphreys