The Girl In The Garden by Melanie WallaceThe Girl In The Garden by Melanie Wallace

The Girl In The Garden

byMelanie Wallace

Hardcover | January 31, 2017

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When June arrives on the coast of New England, baby in arms, an untrustworthy man by her side, Mabel-who rents them a cabin-senses trouble. A few days later, the girl and her child are abandoned.
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June is soon placed with Mabel's friend, Iris, in town, and her life becomes entwined with a number of locals who have known one another for decades: a wealthy recluse with a tragic past; a widow in mourning; a forsaken daughter returning for the first time in years, with a stranger in tow; a lawyer, whose longings he can never reveal; and a kindly World War II veteran who serves as the town's sage. Surrounded by the personal histories and secrets of others, June finds the way forward for herself and her son amid revelations of the others' pasts, including loves-and crimes-from years ago.
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In vivid, nuanced prose, Melanie Wallace-"a writer with a tender regard for the marginal, the missing and the lost"*-explores the time-tested bonds of a small community, the healing power of friendship and love, and whether the wrongs of the past can ever be made right.

* Hilary Mantel

About The Author

MELANIE WALLACE is the author of The Housekeeper, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and Blue Horse Dreaming, which was long-listed (in translation, as Sauvages ) for France's Prix Femina.
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Details & Specs

Title:The Girl In The GardenFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.92 inPublished:January 31, 2017Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0544784669

ISBN - 13:9780544784666

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW! Powerful, character-rich, literary fiction. An amazing and powerful example of fine literary fiction. June is a young mother, timid and painfully thin, with a small infant. She is abandoned by her partner at a seaside tourist cabin somewhere in New England. Penniless, she is taken in by Mabel, the widow who owns the cabins. This premise, and the beautiful book cover, are what led me to read "The girl in the garden". June is the daughter of 'trailer-trash'. She has never known parental love. Now, age fifteen, she is a mother herself... When the baby's father abandons her penniless and alone - she is not surprised at her fate. "And as she'd lived so much of her life in abandonment, she found desertion a normal state of being." Mabel married the love of her life. Now, still reeling from his recent death, she is sympathetic toward June. She understands loss. Her heart breaks for the plight of June and baby Luke. "...she knew a great deal about loss and knew that the sorrow it spawns is impervious to consolation, allows no solace" When Mabel was newly widowed she felt cast adrift - wondering how she could go on... A neighbor, Roland, stepped in and helped her with the night shift at the cabins and any chores that she was unable to do herself. Now, she doesn't know how she would manage without him. He is a constant and steadfast ally. Mabel and Iris are long-time friends. In fact Mabel is Iris's ONLY friend. It is Iris's choice. After the death of her husband, Iris became a recluse. Her husband had been physically and emotionally abusive - a monster. Iris has a daughter Claire. Claire reminds Iris so much of her dead husband that she cannot abide the sight of her. She has arranged for her lawyer to act on Claire's behalf. She has a small cabin built in her garden where Claire is to live on her own - with NO contact from Iris. In fact, Iris's only contact with the world is Mabel and her lawyer, Duncan. When the winter months come, Mabel knows that she cannot let June and baby Luke live in the cold, unheated cabins. She turns to her friend Iris and, in return for a favor bestowed many years previously, Iris feels obliged to acquiesce to Mabel's request. So it is that June and baby Luke move into the cabin in the garden formerly occupied by Iris's daughter, Claire. Claire hasn't lived there for years. When she graduated from high school she took herself off to see the world through the lens of her camera. Always more comfortable behind the lens, than any other way. On the surface a reader might think Iris cold and unfeeling. However people always have their own reasons for behavior which is sometimes shocking and hard to understand. Iris had a unique marriage that left her shamed and betrayed. She felt the only way forward was to retreat from the world and her young daughter. These and other characters in this powerfully written novel are all damaged in some way. In fact, one of my favorite characters in the novel I haven't yet mentioned. His name is Oldman. A WWII veteran and a long confirmed bachelor, he is Duncan's friend, he was once a friend to Claire, and now he befriends June and baby Luke. "it's never the scars which can be seen that matter" Oh, and I'd be remiss not to mention Sam. A Vietnam war veteran he accompanies Claire back to where she grew up. He and Oldman form a deep, indescribable bond. "before meeting Oldman his life hadn't had much rhyme or reason to it and that he'd felt for a long time that he was at its mercy, which hadn't been very merciful." June, Mabel, Iris, Claire, Duncan, Oldman, and Sam. If "The girl in the garden" were a movie, it would be categorized as an 'ensemble cast'. The seven divergent protagonists were equally important in their own right, yet indelibly connected. This novel was written in a very different style from what I am used to. There was very little dialogue. As I kept reading I realized that that was intentional. All of the characters in this book were essentially solitary people. So... it stands to reason that we get to hear their thoughts, not their conversation. For one reason or another they are attempting to navigate life alone. Despite the long sentences and rambling paragraphs, I found this very easy to read. The words painted such vivid pictures, and the characters were so engaging that I feel I will miss them all now that I've finished the book. They were all victims of circumstance - yet aren't we all? Two scenes that I don't think I'll ever forget. Without giving too much away, I'll say only that one involves a heroic dog, and the other describes a photograph of two men and two horses. Truly a magical use of words! Set during the 1970s, this is a novel about people helping people, "The girl in the garden" is a testament to the good in the world. Sometimes, with all that is going on, we need reminding. It is also a novel about loss - loss that damages souls - and the souls attempt to heal... A novel peopled with survivors. I will confess that while reading the final pages of this novel I was completely verklempt. Literary fiction at its finest!
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful, character-rich literary fiction. An amazing and powerful example of fine literary fiction. June is a young mother, timid and painfully thin, with a small infant. She is abandoned by her partner at a seaside tourist cabin somewhere in New England. Penniless, she is taken in by Mabel, the widow who owns the cabins. This premise, and the beautiful book cover, are what led me to read "The girl in the garden". June is the daughter of 'trailer-trash'. She has never known parental love. Now, age fifteen, she is a mother herself... When the baby's father abandons her penniless and alone - she is not surprised at her fate. "And as she'd lived so much of her life in abandonment, she found desertion a normal state of being." Mabel married the love of her life. Now, still reeling from his recent death, she is sympathetic toward June. She understands loss. Her heart breaks for the plight of June and baby Luke. "...she knew a great deal about loss and knew that the sorrow it spawns is impervious to consolation, allows no solace" When Mabel was newly widowed she felt cast adrift - wondering how she could go on... A neighbor, Roland, stepped in and helped her with the night shift at the cabins and any chores that she was unable to do herself. Now, she doesn't know how she would manage without him. He is a constant and steadfast ally. Mabel and Iris are long-time friends. In fact Mabel is Iris's ONLY friend. It is Iris's choice. After the death of her husband, Iris became a recluse. Her husband had been physically and emotionally abusive - a monster. Iris has a daughter Claire. Claire reminds Iris so much of her dead husband that she cannot abide the sight of her. She has arranged for her lawyer to act on Claire's behalf. She has a small cabin built in her garden where Claire is to live on her own - with NO contact from Iris. In fact, Iris's only contact with the world is Mabel and her lawyer, Duncan. When the winter months come, Mabel knows that she cannot let June and baby Luke live in the cold, unheated cabins. She turns to her friend Iris and, in return for a favor bestowed many years previously, Iris feels obliged to acquiesce to Mabel's request. So it is that June and baby Luke move into the cabin in the garden formerly occupied by Iris's daughter, Claire. Claire hasn't lived there for years. When she graduated from high school she took herself off to see the world through the lens of her camera. Always more comfortable behind the lens, than any other way. On the surface a reader might think Iris cold and unfeeling. However people always have their own reasons for behavior which is sometimes shocking and hard to understand. Iris had a unique marriage that left her shamed and betrayed. She felt the only way forward was to retreat from the world and her young daughter. These and other characters in this powerfully written novel are all damaged in some way. In fact, one of my favorite characters in the novel I haven't yet mentioned. His name is Oldman. A WWII veteran and a long confirmed bachelor, he is Duncan's friend, he was once a friend to Claire, and now he befriends June and baby Luke. "it's never the scars which can be seen that matter" Oh, and I'd be remiss not to mention Sam. A Vietnam war veteran he accompanies Claire back to where she grew up. He and Oldman form a deep, indescribable bond. "before meeting Oldman his life hadn't had much rhyme or reason to it and that he'd felt for a long time that he was at its mercy, which hadn't been very merciful." June, Mabel, Iris, Claire, Duncan, Oldman, and Sam. If "The girl in the garden" were a movie, it would be categorized as an 'ensemble cast'. The seven divergent protagonists were equally important in their own right, yet indelibly connected. This novel was written in a very different style from what I am used to. There was very little dialogue. As I kept reading I realized that that was intentional. All of the characters in this book were essentially solitary people. So... it stands to reason that we get to hear their thoughts, not their conversation. For one reason or another they are attempting to navigate life alone. Despite the long sentences and rambling paragraphs, I found this very easy to read. The words painted such vivid pictures, and the characters were so engaging that I feel I will miss them all now that I've finished the book. They were all victims of circumstance - yet aren't we all? Two scenes that I don't think I'll ever forget. Without giving too much away, I'll say only that one involves a heroic dog, and the other describes a photograph of two men and two horses. Truly a magical use of words! Set during the 1970s, this is a novel about people helping people, "The girl in the garden" is a testament to the good in the world. Sometimes, with all that is going on, we need reminding. It is also a novel about loss - loss that damages souls - and the souls attempt to heal... A novel peopled with survivors. I will confess that while reading the final pages of this novel I was completely verklempt. Literary fiction at its finest!
Date published: 2017-02-19

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Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Girl in the Garden Readers will come to understand and love [Wallace's characters] as they begin to understand and love themselves and each other? Wallace deftly handle their interactions with one another, and her ability to share how those interactions become meaningful as they grow to know and trust each other. Indeed, the menagerie of characters are at the heart of this story, and Wallace's treatment of their growing and healing relationships lend themselves to deep interest and high praise? the girlin the garden, June, serves as a catalyst for contemplating the themes Wallace is concerned with: alienation, family, relationships, loss, love, and the courage life often demands-all of which are handled poignantly and powerfully. If there were a library shelf for Resilience or Human Spirit, The Girl in the Garden would surely be shelved there." -NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS "Powerful. . . . The book focuses on the resiliency of the human spirit. Wallace makes use of long, unconfined sentences to build the many distinctive voices and has a knack for teasing out important details. This is a quiet, contemplative novel that builds slowly and leaves a lasting impact." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY "Wallace's poignant novel is, at once, a portrait of a small, coastal, New England town; a bit of a mystery; and a completely engaging study of an odd mix of characters whose lives become intricately intertwined. . . . Wallace writes with poetic sensitivity as she delves into their lives and backstories, quickly engaging the reader in this close-knit community and the many secrets it harbors." - BOOKLIST "Lovely. . . [A] sensitive salvation story." - KIRKUS REVIEWS "In this exceptional novel, Melanie Wallace conveys the depths and complexities of life in a seemingly uneventful New England village. The Girl in the Garden strikingly affirms Eudora Welty's belief 'that one place understood helps us understand all other places better.'" -Ron Rash, author of Serena and Above the Waterfall "Wallace warmly envelops the reader in the essence of her setting? The Girl in the Garden is populated with scarred characters; some carry visible scars while others harbor hidden ones. Each suffers on the fringes of society because of these scars. But Wallace shows how healing acceptance can be. Soulful and exquisite, this novel blooms with the beauty of humanity." - Shelf Awareness "Real suffering and real compassion make for a believable, winning tale." - Washington Independent Review of Books " The Girl in the Garden is a novel by Melanie Wallace that proves the kindness of strangers can heal wounds that exist far below the surface? Wallace finds a way to thoughtfully intertwine the characters and the effect the have on each other's lives." - PULSE Magazine "