I just finished The White Garden
by Stephanie Barron. I confess it wasn’t the Virginia Woolf reference, or the fact the story takes place in modern day England that made me pick up the book. It was the title.
I naively expected a story of the evening magic in a garden planted in white flowers, or maybe the mysteries of plants that bloom white, or have leaves of white. This is not that story. The main character, Jo Bellamy, is a landscape architect from the United States working on copying a well-known English garden at Sissinghurst where Vita Sackville-West
lived. Jo comes from a family of gardeners, but that is about as much gardening one gets in the story line. Instead, as I should have known, the main plot is about a deep dark mystery of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West.
We visit historical locations and colleges, which I assume are indeed real places–I’ll be checking with my daughter in Cambridge UK–all very charming and interesting. We also step a bit into Sotheby’s rare book world. I did get engaged into the story enough to want to know more about these things and people but frankly the ending was predictable and fizzled for me. It could be because I am not a Virginia Woolf fan, nor am I savvy about that era or world. What I do know is gardening, and on that alone this was a disappointing read.
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