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"The Twilight Garden" | Reviewed by Pat Sainz

“The Twilight Garden,” by Sara Hisha Adams, is the perfect story to read right now for those who love spring gardens. The novel’s lush English garden binds the different families who share it between 1972 and 2018. 

When Maya and her husband Prem moved to their London duplex in 1972, they had newly arrived there from Kenya.  Behind their home is a garden filled with vegetable and herb plots, flowering trees including a banana tree, and winding paths lined with flowers.  

            Half the garden belongs to Maya and Prem, but crabby Alma, who owns the house next door, has confiscated the entire area and claimed it as her own. This suits Maya and Prem, except for the fact that they feel like guests in their own garden. Maya has little interest in gardening and has an aversion to the cat that follows Alma everywhere.

            The walls between the houses are so thin near the kitchen that Alma has heard the cries and sad conversations between Maya and Prem when their desire for a child seems unachievable. When Maya finally announces that she will have a child, Alma invites Maya to enjoy the garden and sets aside her need for exclusive rights.

            Prem builds a garden chair for Maya, and Alma, Maya, and Prem spend more time in each other’s company. The baby shows a remarkable love for gloomy Alma, and a lifetime friendship blooms. All the highs and terrible lows that make up life are shared among the occupants of the adjoined homes for 20 years.

            When Bernice, a harried, single mother, buys Alma’s house, the garden has become overgrown and foxes have taken over whatever vegetables might have survived. Bernice warns her young son to avoid the backyard. When Winston moves into the rental, he takes no interest in the garden. Both families resent being able to hear every detail of others’ lives through the thin kitchen walls.

            Letters and pictures of the once beautiful garden begin to mysteriously appear in the mail slots of Bernice’s and Winston’s homes. Both take a new look at the defeated garden.  At the same time, Winston finds himself consoling Bernice’s son, Seb, as he cries over the turmoil between his divorced parents. Winston, Seb, and Bernice find their unsettled lives changing as they begin fixing up the neglected garden.

            Winston and Bernice try to solve the mystery of the garden pictures and letters that arrive regularly in their mailboxes which detail the garden's history. When Winston uncovers a weathered chair with the name “Prem” carved into it, he uncovers an important clue.

            The garden serves its purpose as a sanctuary for disillusioned persons. It provides a place of community and pleasures that a small place can provide.  “The Twililght Garden” will serve as an inspiration for readers to add to the abundance of their own gardens…or perhaps to start one. Sara Nisha Adams also wrote “The Reading List.”

            Buy the Book.

         


    

 

 

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