I tried harder than I should have, with this book. It is what it purports to be- a memoir by a woman who worked as an executive for Martha Stewart, then ditched the city life and her job to go live in a house in the country on her own, with a garden and a cat that slowly eased his way into living indoors (she claimed she was not a cat person). However the focus was all on things I cared little about or could not connect to- her efforts to find romance via a paid matchmaking service, her tears over getting a sub-par local haircut, her extravagant shopping sprees, the dinners she had with friends, the efforts she made to sort her plastic storage containers and move a heavy chair. It went on and on. I just did not care. It’s written in a stream-of-consciousness style peppered constantly with quotes not only from writers and poets, but also song lyrics, which got rather old. Aside from that, most of the time I simply could not focus or understand her line of thinking. It’s so rambling and incoherent and I can only assume that I do not operate on the same wavelength as this woman at all.
However I did skim most of the book, and paused to read the few parts that were actually about gardening. Apparently her garden was so lovely she gave tours, and stocked her freezer and had tons of fresh home-grown produce to choose from in her fridge, but she barely tells anything about it. So disappointing. There’s briefest mention of composting, of setting out garlic cloves, of bringing tender potted plants indoors for the winter and trying to oust the insects they harbor. I could relate to all that. But it’s so few pages among the many many many chapters of navel-gazing. She does go on about frogs, and likes observing the birds- so I learned a few new things about amphibians and chickadees. And I did like this bit:
“Your garden is amazing,” people say when they come touring by the hundreds on garden open days I’ve held for charity for the last thirteen years. ‘How did it get this way?”
“This is what happens when you stay in one place for twenty years,” I tell them, “and just keep digging more holes.”
That made me smile and chuckle. My yard is not much to admire yet, but every year I add a few new plants, and work a bit harder on the cultivated garden. Maybe someday my garden will be so full of interesting and beautiful plants that I’ll have trouble fitting in anything new (right now there’s tons of empty and wasted space)- but the only way to get there is a few holes each new season.
Anyway, this book is a toss. Not staying on my shelf. The only word of praise on the back cover I can agree with is idiosyncratic. I suppose other readers might understand her rambling, or connect to her new-age style musings but I simply couldn’t. Final thought: probably she didn’t write much about the garden in here because she does have a garden blog, called A Way to Garden- seems this book was more focused on the personal inner journey she took from the fast-paced high pressure executive lifestyle to taking care of her own house and garden with lots of solitude and time to do whatever she wanted. Admirable, yes. Readable, no.