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A Review of Sally Vickers’ “The Gardener”: A novel about siblings, small country towns, and the power of gardening

Salley Vickers’ The Gardener novel sitting on a red and orange coloured shawl.

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I picked up Sally Vickers’ novel The Gardener on the spur of the moment at the bookstore. I was out and had just finished the book I was reading on the train. Even though I have a million and one books to read at home, I decided to see what the bookstore had to offer me for my train ride home. I was drawn to the cover of Vickers’ novel. It is a beautiful deep red and the cover art, design, and overall layout of the novel are beautiful. Despite what the title of this book might lead you to believe, this is a story about siblings – two sisters, Margot and Halcyon. It is a story about being siblings as adults and rediscovering the love and friendship siblings can share. It is about understanding that what we understand as true for ourselves and our own past might not always be how others remember it. And even more importantly, it is about honouring those differences, while still finding love.

After many twists and turns, two adult sisters, Margot and Halcyon also known as Hassie, find themselves living together in a rundown Jacobian house in Hope Wenlock – a small village in the Welsh marshes. The two sisters seem to be completely different. And their relationship is civil but also very cold at the beginning of the novel. The sisters, almost unbeknownst to themselves, want to reconnect. They just don’t know how to do it.

The novel is peppered with strange and heartwarming village characters like Miss Foot, the Albanian gardener Murat, Peter from the church, and a strange little girl with many names. Hassie tries her best to do all she can to fit into the small town by shopping locally and making efforts to be friendly with their new neighbours. She takes on the task of fixing the property’s garden with the help of Murat. Many things from Hassie’s and Margot’s pasts prevent them from truly being able to move forward with their new lives in Hope Wenlock and the novel takes many twists and turns before any resolution is made.

I was drawn to this novel because of Vickers’ choice to discuss two adult siblings and their relationship. Part of me thinks it is because of how much I miss my brother, and for a moment, I felt like I could still imagine a future with him in it where we are still together.

If you need a comforting read about gardening, country life, Welsh countrysides, warm cups of tea and biscuits, then this is a great book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am glad I let my love of the cover art of this novel guide me.

Buy your copy here.

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