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Life in the Garden

Articles: Life in the Garden

In Life in the Garden British novelist Penelope Lively addresses many lives, lives of writers who garden and gardeners who write, lives of painters, and TV garden celebrities, too. This is hardly a how-to-garden book, more of a why-to-garden book, and also a why-to-write-about-gardens book. This small volume composed of six very generous chapters focuses heavily on women writers and gardens, but does not overlook men.
Lively is a Booker Prize winner and her writing here attests to her talent with words. Her voice is well ordered and only gently restrained, and her opinions quick and often comic. Though definitely focused on the English and their gardens, she waxes poetic about her childhood garden in Egypt, and pulls in Americans wherever she can. She looks to the prairie gardens of Willa Cather and the Atlantic-spanning career of Edith Wharton.
Several of the chapters are focused on literary gardens. She addresses the importance of the garden as metaphor in the novels of Jane Austin, Virginia Woolf, and many others. She also looks at the writing of gardeners. The famous Vita Sackville-West and Anna Pavord are found again and again in these pages. But she also includes lesser-k...


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