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MandyM

MandyM

Stuff I'm reading... Mostly romance and Scifi/Fantasy.

The Apothecary's Garden

The Apothecary's Garden - Julie Bozza Wow! This is quite brilliant. The May/December pairing doesn't usually appeal to me and luckily I didn't realise that was the theme of this novel because I might have missed out on reading it.Sixty-something Hilary Kent inherits a run-down tower and overgrown garden in the English countryside. Just as he is settling in his life is disrupted by an enthusiastic history student who wants to write his thesis about the historic 'apothecary's garden'. I loved Hilary with his knitted tea cosies, his gentle courtesy and his repressed sexuality. And Tom with his youthful exuberance and idealism. The age difference was explored sweetly and thoughtfully. For the first part of the novel Hilary is strongly reluctant to even think about his attraction to Tom. He puts him off time and time again, trying to divert him to other more suitable candidates. Hilary's sense of longing and Tom's despair during this time is really poignant. But Tom is determined and steadfast and finally Hilary succumbs.Hilary was born in an age when homosexuality was illegal and hidden. Suddenly now, in the winter of his life, he falls in love and is shocked and full of trepidation at the ways he can be open about this. His whole world and beliefs are turned upside down. The juxtaposition of his emotional rebirth against the rebirth of the apothecary's garden felt really meaningful to me.Above all I loved the Englishness of the setting and the storyline. The wild old garden with its ancient origins, the search for clues through old attics and the Squire's Hall, the mystery of the garden's original owner. And of course all the characters who could have stepped out of the pages of a Midsomer Murders script.But away from the book and its beautiful prose, do I believe that Tom would really have fallen for Hilary? I don't know. But as a romantic fantasy and a love story it was beyond beautiful.