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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Writer’s Garden by Jackie Bennett, Richard Hanson

This sumptuous book features gardens from some literary greats throughout the decades, creating a visually stunning and intriguing book with a difference. 30 iconic authors and their gardens are featured in this beautifully presented book. What a fascinating selection:

The garden at Key West, Florida, created by Ernest Hemingway with his second wife, Pauline, was first started in 1928, and the boxing ring he first installed to spar with his mates, was later replaced by a swimming pool, a huge luxury in the time of the 1930s depression, and the only in-ground pool at that time in Key West. The garden itself, was planted with native Florida Keys plants.

In contrast, the garden that the Alcott family enjoyed was much more traditional. Lousia May Alcott, most famous for her novel Little Women, had a garden where the real and imaginary world of her novel merges. Each sister in the book has a ‘bed of flowers devoted to the flowers that – according to the author – suited each of their personalities.’

Agatha Christie was delighted to buy Greenway, a property with 36 acres in 1938, and she delighted in its privacy of mature trees and shrubs after ‘the affair of her first husband, and her subsequent “disappearance” had left her feeling bruised and fearful of public attention.’

Beatrix Potter enjoyed purchasing land in Hill Top, where she had the ‘chance to put into practice all the aesthetic and practical ideas she had stored up over the years about houses and gardens, influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement.’

The book details the gorgeous garden where Leo Tolstoy wrote his great works of fiction, including Anna Karenina and War and Peace at Yasnaya Polyana, a place where the apple blossom was a symbol of renewal and life.

This hopefully gives just a hint of the famous authors, their lives and the gardens they enjoyed. The Writer’s Garden is a must have for any reader with a love of reading and gardens. It offers a unique insight into the gardens and lives of some literary greats, and how these outdoor spaces impacted these well-known writers.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Murdoch Books


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