I enjoyed this book, perhaps more than the rating might suggest. But then again I am pliable and tolerant in the face of good writing. Let's get the negatives out of the way. The most obvious is the reading. The author's reading is very monotoned and at times too fast. This may be a deal breaker for some, and though I usually do not put too much emphasis on this category, I have to say, it was difficult at first. But it got better. I'm not sure if this had to do with my own habituation or if she improved over time. By the end it was an aspect of the personality of the book and I was more than used to it.
Also this book was much more memoir than parable. In fact the attempt to make it parable seemed a bit strained. Perhaps it is just me, but I expect a parable to be rather directly moralizing, or, maybe, I am just lazy and expected her to connect the dots more literally. But Parables are not metaphors. They should be much more in your face preachy. Though she is nicely opinionated, this does not come through in the telling of parables. I'm sure that most gardeners find parable in every shovel of soil, at least I do. But this soil is abundant with interpretation. A parable is not quite so distracted by ambiguity. But a good memoir usually is.
Finally, I would note that this book is rather devoid of human contact. Perhaps a more fitting title would have been Backyard Fables as it has distinctive animal characters. The book is ripe with connection to the plants and animals of the garden but people only appear as resource to that endeavor and there is little sense of connection there. This is not solipsism but a choice.
Having listed the negatives, let me now say that I immensely enjoyed this book. It is in the spirit of transcendentalism. This garden is Waldon Pond visited not for two years but for twenty five and counting. Thoreau wrote of an experience with his environment. Margaret Roach writes of a relationship with her environment. There are two distinctly different personalities of gardener: The pensive and the task oriented. Don't be deceived, Roach is far more the later. And it is her diligence in writing that provides foder for thought. This book is not unlike gardening, it requires a little patience, but it is well worth the effort.
This was my first T. C. Boyle book to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite its rather glaring flaws. A picture is worth a thousand words and in Boyle’s case that picture is very finely focused. If crisp literary description is not your thing, you are likely to finds this book tedious.
Despite all of the fine description these characters remain rather one dimensional and predictable. He seems to set out with a literary device that he does not have patience to fully develop. Two of his characters get the embellishment of lineage. Despite the context of parents and grandparents, these characters remain of rather limited dimension. Furthermore, the author seems to tire of the device and does not stick with it very well.
He sets out on the noble path to show two sides of a complex issue but there, too, he fails. His amazing power of description just does not extend as well to character or context. One side of the story gets many more pages, more context and less villainous characters. Despite himself the author takes a side.
But, for me, his ability to describe, not just the physical world, but perception of it, is well worth the structural problems. In fact, I found it surprising and interesting that he could describe perception so well without emotional complexity. Emotion is viewed through the same objective lens as a foggy coast line.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.