The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden Though The Lost Garden the third novel by Kingston based writer Helen Humphreys is set in England in it takes place far from the bombs of the Blitz Gwen Davis a sad shy employee of the Royal

  • Title: The Lost Garden
  • Author: Helen Humphreys
  • ISBN: 9780002005111
  • Page: 431
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Though The Lost Garden, the third novel by Kingston based writer Helen Humphreys, is set in England in 1941, it takes place far from the bombs of the Blitz Gwen Davis, a sad, shy employee of the Royal Horticultural Society who s spent much of her adulthood studying diseased parsnips, leaves London to lead young members of the Women s Land Army on an estate in the Devon coThough The Lost Garden, the third novel by Kingston based writer Helen Humphreys, is set in England in 1941, it takes place far from the bombs of the Blitz Gwen Davis, a sad, shy employee of the Royal Horticultural Society who s spent much of her adulthood studying diseased parsnips, leaves London to lead young members of the Women s Land Army on an estate in the Devon countryside She arrives amid great confusion, but soon realizes that she s inherited a gaggle of Land Girls who are less interested in growing potatoes for the war effort than in consorting with the Canadian soldiers stationed nearby Gwen is not a natural leader, but she does find allies in Jane, a wan but caustic young woman whose boyfriend is missing in action, and Captain Raley, a dashing Canadian officer prone to quoting from the poems of Tennyson Gwen also discovers a garden planted by someone who worked on the estate during its grandest years, before World War I decimated an earlier generation of English gardeners The events that follow prove that the melancholy narrator is wrong to believe, as she says early in the story, that the stupidity of vegetables is preferable to the unpredictability of people The Lost Garden is written in a style very much informed by Gwen s favourite writer, Virginia Woolf, who herself has just gone missing as the novel begins Although some dialogue teeters on the edge between lyrical and overripe, the action builds to a lovely finale that merges all of the novel s disparate elements into something with genuine emotional resonance Like the roses that fascinate the novel s heroine, The Lost Garden s poise and beauty are complemented by its surprisingly hardy nature Jason Anderson

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      Published :2020-08-27T01:15:49+00:00

    About " Helen Humphreys "

  • Helen Humphreys

    Helen Humphreys is the author of four books of poetry, five novels, and one work of creative non fiction She was born in Kingston on Thames, England, and now lives in Kingston, Ontario with her dog, Hazel.Her first novel, Leaving Earth 1997 , won the 1998 City of Toronto Book Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year Her second novel, Afterimage 2000 , won the 2000 Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize, was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year Her third novel, The Lost Garden 2002 , was a 2003 Canada Reads selection, a national bestseller, and was also a New York Times Notable Book of the Year Wild Dogs 2004 won the 2005 Lambda Prize for fiction, has been optioned for film, and was produced as a stage play at CanStage in Toronto in the fall of 2008 Coventry 2008 was a 1 national bestseller, was chosen as one of the top 100 books of the year by the Globe Mail, and was chosen one of the top ten books of the year by both the Ottawa Citizen and NOW Magazine.Humphreys s work of creative non fiction, The Frozen Thames 2007 , was a 1 national bestseller Her collections of poetry include Gods and Other Mortals 1986 Nuns Looking Anxious, Listening to Radios 1990 and, The Perils of Geography 1995 Her latest collection, Anthem 1999 , won the 2000 Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry.Helen Humphreys s fiction is published in Canada by HarperCollins, and in the U.S by W.W Norton The Frozen Thames was published by McClelland Stewart in Canada, and by Bantam in the U.S Her work has been translated into many languages.


  • It is 1941 and London is being bombed daily. Gwen leaves her job at the horticulture center and takes the position of training young land girls at an estate on the Devon coast. There job is to grow food for the home front.In the estate house a group of soldiers are stationed, waiting to be posted. All have left things or people behind, many have acquaintances or loved ones who have already been killed, or presumed missing. For many of the girls this is the first time they have left home. Most ar [...]

  • The only reason I'm not giving this a full five stars is because I thought the underlying metaphor was a little strained and heavy-handed at times; just a few times. But the language - oh, the language. Humphreys is a poet and it shows. And the longing, and the love, and the grief.Originally, Humphreys wanted the novel to be a tribute to reading, not gardening - and it manages to be both. Set in rural England in 1941, The Lost Garden revolves around a 30-something lonely heart who loves, in no p [...]

  • I love stories about gardens, that involve gardens, or where the setting is in a garden. So I could not resist picking up this book and having a look at it. The story sounded interesting and intriguing as well. And oh, how I wasn't dissapointed. I got so much more than what I was expecting.It's England, 1941, and London is being destroyed by the Blitz. Gwen Davis, our narrator and protagonist, is a 35 year old horticulturist. Solitary and better with plants than she is with people, Gwen neverthe [...]

  • What a lovely book! I realized halfway through, that I can think of at least 3 people locally who would love this book, though I might be reluctant to let it leave. It's not a dramatic story, but love, loss and longing are such integral characters in this novel. Part mystery, part tribute to Virginia Woolf (indeed, how often have you written a letter to someone in your head?), part gardener's paradise and delight, little quips such as "I much prefer parsnips to people. They are infinitely more r [...]

  • My first Humphreys' book and it won't be my last. This was a hauntingly written novel in a quiet and profound manner that made me stop in my tracks several times while reading to absorb the words in my head. Set outside of London in 1941, the descriptions of the war's destruction and death are horrific but even more compelling are the stories of the individuals living it. Humphreys' gives voice to a regiment of Canadian soldiers billeted at an English manor awaiting deployment into the bleak fra [...]

  • In a way, this is a love letter to Virginia Woolf. But, it's so much more than that. And, it's so well done. I couldn't possibly do it justice in a review.Just*love*

  • Romanzo che ho letto per partecipare a un GdL. Io non l'avrei scelto. Ha avuto successo, e Helen Humpreys è un'autrice nota e pluripremiata; ma io non ci ho trovato proprio niente. Inconsistente, evanescente, acquoso. Una zitella inglese va a vivere e a lavorare, per sfuggire ai bombardamenti su Londra, in una tenuta di campagna, dove scopre un giardino segreto dedicato all'amore. Si innamora di un capitano che abita nelle vicinanze, ma in amore è sfortunata e del resto la guerra incombe. Non [...]

  • It is deeply lyrical, but it is also overwrought and implausible. Gwen, the central character, is supposed to be leading a land girl platoon in WWII, but spends her whole time mooning away, re-creating a secret garden where apparently nobody notices she isn't doing a stroke of useful farm work. There is a small contingent of Canadian soldiers camped in the farm's main building; the girls have loads of fun organizing dances for the men, but do not quite have torrid affairs, in fact it's all quite [...]

  • The Lost Garden affected me in a way I did not expect. I read a lot of books set in WWII, but the trials of war were almost secondary in this story, though it is definitely the backdrop. This story was more about finding oneself after losing oneself; about love, longing, secrets, passions, hope, and mindfulness in the face of tragic circumstances. Gwen pours all of her emotions into gardening. She's like a profiler - but of flowers. She creates profiles for each genus. She can get to the heart o [...]

  • I read this book in less than a day and it was so beautiful that I was sorry that it came to an end. It is basically a love story, but not in any conventional sense. It is set in the second world war on an estate in Devon where a group of Land Army girls are based to reclaim a very overgrown garden and grow vegetables for the war effort. There is also a group of Canadian soldiers waiting to be sent to France to start fighting. Helen Humphreys tells the story in a clear and concise way so that wo [...]

  • What a lovely, poetic book this is. While the gardens are clearly symbolic of love, loss and longing, the gentle story envelopes you so softly that you don't realize until the very end how sad this book is. Helen Humphreys has a way of writing short, poignant books that pack such an emotional punch as to leave you reeling. Her descriptions are utterly beautiful. Every time I finish one of her books, I find myself just holding it in my hand, staring off into space while I absorb the impact of her [...]

  • A beautifully written meditation upon love, longing and loss -- conveyed through the flora of an abandoned English garden during the Second World War.The characters are surprisingly relatable and well-developed for a short novel, although what most resonated with me are the setting, atmosphere, and many poetically expressed passages -- many of which I marked in pencil to revisit. I did feel as if the details in the final chapters were a bit too compact, making the final pages seem rushed compare [...]

  • Closer to 3.5 stars. The plot was incidental here, this is a book about loss and longing and in that, it succeeds.

  • The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys is a beautifully written book. At first it may seem a bit disjointed and difficult-going. But looking deeper, the reader finds that like, the lost garden of the title, the story is multi-layered and the best layers are hidden beneath the weeds and neglect. Gardener Gwen Davis comes to the Devon countryside to lead a group from the Women's Land Army. These women have volunteered to grow vegetables for the war effort. Gwen is shy and has little self-confidence an [...]

  • "With a haunting story of love in a time of war. Helen Humphreys has created a novel that is both heartrending and heart-mending. Horticulturalist Gwen Davis has fled the Blitz in London for a rundown estate in Devon as a volunteer with the Women's Land Army. There, she must organize a group of young women who are to grow food for the war effort. Posted on the estate as well is a Canadian regiment awaiting orders for the front. These three months together are a time of rural escape for them and [...]

  • I don't know about you, but when I go out of town for a couple days it seems like I'm completely loaded down with stuff. And I don't mean things like hairdryers and extra clothes. Who needs a change of pants anyway? No, what I'm talking about is stuff that is essential to life. Stuff that makes the days fun. I'm talking about craft projects and books.Even for a short trip, one essential thing is a choice of craft projects and books. I never know what mood I'll be in while I'm away so I've always [...]

  • This is a beautiful, poetically written novella. It’s the second book I’ve read by the author and I will actively seek out more. As in Coventry, I found that this author has a gift for description; scenes and locations spring visually to life.It’s the spring of 1941 and Gwen Davis has decided to leave London because she cannot bear to see any more of the destruction of her beloved city as the Blitz continues. A horticulturalist with the Royal Horticultural Society, she leaves for an estate [...]

  • "The Lost Garden" is a gentle, exquisite novel--beautifully written.The language, the beauty of the simple things that grow, come to life in Helen Humphrey's writing.Gwen Davis, who has never known love or intimacy, leaves the Royal Horiticulure Society in London during the Blitz and her work on cankers in parsnips (yes, cankers in parsnips), to work with the Women's Land Army on an estate in Devon, where soldiers await their orders. Friendship and understanding develop, as the women learn to wo [...]

  • On the surface, this is the story of a group of women who grew potatoes for the war effort on an abandoned estate in Devon during World War II. But if you want to know facts, like how many potatoes could be planted per acre or how much the women were paid each month, this probably isn't the book for you. The tone, instead, is elegaic, teetering very close to melodrama in places but never quite getting there. Gwen Davis, the 35-year-old narrator who has never been in love and has devoted her life [...]

  • This novel is set in early 1941 in Britan . London is on fire from the Blitz, and a young woman gardener named Gwen Davis flees from the burning city for the Devon countryside. She has volunteered for the Land Army, and is to be in charge of a group of young land girls who will be trained to plant food crops on an old country estate where the gardens have fallen into ruin. Also on the estate, waiting to be posted, is a regiment of Canadian soldiers. For three months, the young women and men will [...]

  • "Love is tested everyday, & what is not renewed is lost. One chooses either 2 care more or to care less. Once the choice is to come less: then there is no stopping the momentum of goodbye. Each loved thing slips away. there is no stopping it."An unexpected ending to which i am surprised and feel cheated - i do not like the outcome. I do not feel every fall when the plants go dormant they completely die like a person. My pear tree looses leaves but is still alive and there to continue to grow [...]

  • The novel gathers some lovely things together, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Wilmott's rose book, a mysterious garden. I loved the author's love for them. The characters were a mix of thin and compelling. Jane got some great lines, and Gwen grew on me. Her realization that she has been too defensive in her dealings with the other women working at the garden was resonant. Captain Raley never seemed well rounded enough to justify her fascination with him.

  • I'm not sure how I felt about this book. The writing was certainly lovely but the story was just so sad, so hopeless. It's not how I like to feel when I finish a book. Plus there were some elements of mystery in the book that turned out so oddly, I just couldn't understand why they were part of the story at all.

  • This was just OK. I wanted to like it more, but didn't really care for the author's writing style. The premise was good, but the way the story was written just didn't draw me in to the characters. The only reason I finished was because the book is only 182 pages and I kept trying to give it a chance. Diane, you will be getting this one back for the book sale. :-)

  • I like gardening and I like books about England during World War II. This book combines both and while it wasn't the best thing I've ever read, it was quietly touching and nicely written. A solid three-star read.

  • I didn’t like Gwen the main character, no passion, didn’t like the way she named people with potato names. Eglington Rose leaves “fragrant like apples” interested us for a minute.

  • (view spoiler)[The whole chapter is great. She shows how telling can be effective and absolutely glorious. Amazing spectacular brilliant. I did not want this book to end, and I will definitely read much more of Helen Humphreys. Her writing is glorious and her heart is deep. I could have taken the whole last chapter, but I will have to accept this snippet, and so even great books must come to an END. I say goodbye sadly. I am bereft."I have been home twice in my life. Once when I lay under the li [...]

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