Author: Julie Bozza
Publisher: Manifold Press
Cover Artist: Image: Anne Burgess – Geograph.org.uk
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Hilary Kent, a Londoner all his working life, retires to Wiltshire after an estranged cousin unexpectedly leaves him an inhabitable tower surrounded by an overgrown physic garden – and that’s when graduate student Tom Laurence suddenly erupts into his life, convincing him that together they can restore the ancient garden to its former glory. Tom’s cheerful friendship is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hilary and he’s perfectly content with that until, to his astonishment and confusion, it seems that Tom’s affection for him is beginning to grow into something more … something he feels he probably shouldn’t allow.
Here’s what’s great: newly relocated and retired to the countryside Hilary meets outgoing grad student Tom within the first ten pages of this book. I was immediately in that settled place, ready to curl up and meander down the road next to these two men and watch their story unfold.
The theme is spelled out rather early and I like that, too. It’s never too late. The rub? Would Hilary come to agree with Tom on that sentiment, and how what role would Tom play.
A couple of chapters in and an enjoyable mixture of history, ancient mysteries and discoveries, and an energetic connection twixt Hilary and Tom were taking shape. It’s all in thanks to a just as ancient garden with its own chip chopped past.
For me? Contentment was the name of this game.
Hilary is aware of how much it pleases him to please Tom as Tom’s project and related thesis begin around this garden of Hilary’s. I like that he doesn’t deny this to himself, that Hilary doesn’t ignore the joy that comes with spending time with Tom, even if he believes nothing more than other than friendship will come of it.
It must be a style choice by the author, but exclamation points are used often in dialogue. Many times, it read as either a lot of surprised looks as the characters spoke, or inflated excitement that didn’t fit the scene. It’s not a huge distraction but a distraction nonetheless.
Back to the garden and Tom’s project, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there is a lot of garden talk going on here. What I so enjoy is how that history, and the passion for it, provide such a lovely stage upon which Hilary and Tom get to know each other.
Lovely. I don’t think I could use that word too many times to describe this story and the writing.
Another word I could never overuse when discussing this book? Tea. I came up with a couple of games: every time the word “tea” appears, take a drink (of tea, of whiskey, of a long island iced tea, whatever you like); or, just like those jellybeans in the jar, everyone try and keep count of how many times you read the word and we’ll all compare afterwards – the prize? Tea, of course! Honestly, I love my Irish breakfast tea, so I get it and adore that tea is the anchor and the glue and the touchstone for Hilary and Tom.
It’s a thrill when someone enters your life and, by simply being there, they help you see the world from a totally different angle. These wonderful invaders cause new thoughts to and desires and possibilities, new directions to take. I know they have for me. Tis the same for Hilary.
He was breaking the habits of a lifetime. It was enough to make a man giddy with delight.
This is a sweet and wonderful love story. Normally, this would be too sweet a meal for me but there’s something about Hilary and Tom… and I think it’s their passion. contented sigh
Every bit of this story serves the characters. No grand schemes or setting changes in attempts to create tension and curiosity. Everything centers around Hilary and Tom. For me, this made for quite a satisfying reading experience.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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