Posts tagged ‘book recommendation’

March 21, 2014

Book: The Ivington Diaries

Books about learning to garden can be a bit repetitive. After all, there’s only a handful of ways to sow seeds. Books on gardens, however, are wonderful. This example from Monty Don, has captured my attention and really made me want to learn more and visit more gardens to understand planting on a larger scale. It’s written as a year’s worth of diary entries, but with the years ranging over roughly a decade, so for example January 1st 1999 is followed by January 4th, 2004 and it’s utterly captivating.  Monty writes so engagingly he makes you want to walk around the acres of garden (sections have names;  spring garden, jewel garden, white garden) and take a peek into the potting sheds. He writes of practical matters, mulch being a favourite, and of the joy and artistry of creating a beautiful garden, not to mention the work that goes into creating such a garden from scratch and his words are accompanied by lush photography so you get a good overview of the different parts of the garden through the year.

The book format (even down to the paper and font choices), reminds me very much of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diary which is an absolute favourite book of mine, so if you liked that, imagine a similar book set in a garden, and you’ve gone some way towards capturing the feel of this book.

The garden in question is at his home, Ivington, where he and his family moved following the collapse of the family business and the death of his mother. The house they bought and the creation of the garden seems to have brought their lives back together and in his own words ‘rebuilt’ him.  He writes with such love, attention and humour and, because the book is written as short diary entries, it’s really easy to dip into and read whenever you’ve got a free minute. I really recommend it, and think it would be a wonderful gift for Mothering Sunday…

The Ivington Diaries

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February 21, 2014

Book: Glaciers

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After tearing through a handful of roller-coaster fantasy novels, including the Mur Lafferty one I wrote about recently and the first Terry Pratchett novel I’ve read in years I felt in need of something a touch calmer. A moment of tranquility, before another fast paced hurtle though a different world.

Enter Glaciers, written by Alexis M. Smith. I’d been bought this book as a gift a few months back, but not been in the right frame of mind to read it. This time, it was exactly what I was looking for.

Glaciers is a short, beautiful and somewhat melancholy book based on a day in the life of Isabel, a book restorer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Each chapter is brief, with wistful, memory-laden references to Isabel’s own history interwoven with that of the postcards she collects and vintage clothing she wears. Lightness and humour are provided by her friendship with Leo, and the nearly-but-not-quite love with a soldier who is called back to battle leaves a bittersweet feeling and a lingering wonder about what could have been and indeed, what still might be.

As a debut novel, I think it’s incredibly accomplished, with the beautifully drawn character of Isabel being someone you care for right from the start. It’s a quick read, but one that stays on your mind long after the last page has been read. Beautiful and highly recommended.

Have you read anything great recently? I’d love to hear your book recommendations!