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If you’ve been here for a while, you know I LOVE reading memoirs by people who have moved to new countries and are puzzling their way through daily lives in new cultures.

In honour of that love, I’ve put together a list of 15 fascinating expat memoirs over at my other blog, The Ambling Adventurer.  Enjoy!  And if you have any suggestions for further reading, do let me know.  A reading list can never be too long!

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2016 was an entirely adequate year for me.  I earned my first professional designation after three years of hard work and study, went on some great trips (though, having stayed in North America all year, I really did miss my usual visit to Europe), and, the crucial difference from 2015, none of my loved ones died or seriously injured themselves.  Well done us!

And, of course, there were lots of books.  Here are the best of the best:

books-310. The Lark (1922) – E. Nesbit
This charming story of two young women and their attempts to support themselves is featuring on a lot of “Best of” lists this year and rightly so. And the best news is that it will be reprinted and easily available as of March 2017, thanks to Scott!

9. More Was Lost (1946) – Eleanor Perényi
An interesting and entertaining memoir about life in Central Europe in the late 1930s from a young American woman married to a Hungarian nobleman.

8. Classic German Baking (2016) – Luisa Weiss
Simply put, this is the cookbook I have been longing for all my life. The Christmas chapter alone – heck, just the recipe for Basler Brunsli cookies – would have been enough to earn it a spot on this list. As it is, the other chapters are equally wonderful.

books-27. Lassoing the Sun (2016) – Mark Woods
I feel rather guilty that I didn’t get around to writing about this wonderful book. A journalist based in Florida, Woods set out to spend a year visiting twelve of America’s national parks. Not the necessarily most beautiful or the most popular ones, but “each symbolizing a different issue facing the national parks in the next hundred years.”  A fascinating project, but not the heart of what the year evolved into, as Woods’ mother passed away after a short and fierce illness.  His travels are tied up with his mourning for his mother, his lifelong memories of visiting the parks with his family, and the urge to share that same sense of wonder and discovery with his own daughter.  Really very wonderful and touching.

6. The House by the Dvina (1984) – Eugenie Fraser
This memoir of Fraser’s childhood in Russia (before, during and immediately after the Revolution) is richly and wonderfully told, taking you deep into a close-knit family and a vanished world. It feels very Slightly Foxed-esque and I can only hope it’s on their radar for possible reissue.

5. Terms and Conditions (2016) – Ysenda Maxtone Graham
Speaking of Slightly Foxed, this wonderful history of girls’ boarding schools is one of the most amusing and original books I’ve read in years.

books-14. Saturday’s Child (1914) – Kathleen Thompson Norris
I first read this novel in 2015 and loved it then too but I think it made an even bigger impact on rereading. The perfect dose of both commiseration and inspiration at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed and indulging, like the heroine, in a bit too much “woe is me”-ing and not enough productive action. It’s deeply reassuring to know that a hundred years ago young working women felt exactly the same way I do in 2016.

3. Children of Earth and Sky (2016) – Guy Gavriel Kay
The newest release from the master of historical fantasy, I loved this so much I read it twice this year.

2. To the Bright Edge of the World (2016) – Eowyn Ivey
A magical, enthralling tale of an 1880s expedition into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Beautifully told and deeply satisfying to read, I keep pressing everyone I know to try it.

new-i-was-a-stranger-bunkerbooks1. I Was a Stranger (1977) – General Sir John Hackett
In a year when the world was doing its best to show how cruel and petty man can be, this memoir of the courage and friendship showed by a Dutch family in occupied Holland to the British officer they hid reminded me that, even in the worst of times, kindness, trust, and love can still flourish.  A real gem that I am entirely indebted to Slightly Foxed for reissuing.

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What a strange year it has been, full of changes, new adventures and, as far as this blog is concerned, very abnormal reading habits.  But, however altered my reading schedule may have been, the quality of books remained excellent and it was not at all difficult to pick my ten favourite books from 2013:

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10. The Talisman Ring (1936) – Georgette Heyer
Having discovered Heyer a decade ago, I thought I’d read all her best works.  But no, other bloggers assured me, I still needed to read The Talisman Ring.  Nonsense, I thought, but it was Heyer so I was determined to read it anyways.  Of course, I discovered that everyone was right and that this hilarious tale of a fanciful young woman, a dashing smuggler, and their put-upon elders is indeed one of the greatest things Heyer wrote.

9. Alif the Unseen (2012) – G. Willow Wilson
I struggled to review all the books I wished to this year and that included some of my favourites, like Alif the Unseen.  An extraordinary combination of fantasy, religion, and 21st technology, this story of an Indo-Arab hacker who finds himself on the run from the corrupt state authorities is powerful, timely, and above all, engaging.  It was one of only two books this year that kept me reading until late into the night (the other is #6 on this list).

8. The English Air (1940) – D.E. Stevenson
Stevenson is an author whose quality varies dramatically from book to book.  I love her but most of her novels are merely good rather than excellent.  The English Air is one of those excellent exceptions, sensitively following the struggles of a young German man who finds himself torn between England and Germany at the beginning of the Second World War.  Stevenson paints as alluring a portrait of the domestic charms of middle-class pre-war England as anyone but it is her intelligent handling of Franz’s divided loyalties that makes this rise above most of her other works. 2013Books2

7. The Rosie Project (2013) – Graeme Simsion
This quirky and touching romantic comedy about a socially inept Australian scientist’s search for love was an absolute delight.  I loved it so much in fact that I read it not once but twice this year and am now busy pressing everyone I know to read it too.

6. Under Heaven (2010) – Guy Gavriel Kay
Kay, the master of historical fantasy, has now published two books inspired by Chinese history: Under Heaven and River of Stars.  I read both this year and both are extraordinarily good but Under Heaven was, to me, the most absorbing.  Kay is astonishingly good at balancing character development, political intrigue, and action, making for a book that left my pulse racing and my mind whirling.

5. London War Notes (1971) – Mollie Panter-Downes
The fact that I was even able to get my hands on a copy of this all-too-rare book was a miracle; as anyone who has had the privilege of reading this will agree, it is a travesty that it has not yet been reprinted.  During the Second World War, Mollie Panter-Downes’ “Letter from London” was published every second week in the New Yorker magazine, giving her American readers a glimpse of the wartime experience in London.  In typical Panter-Downes fashion, she is observant and articulate, intelligent and unsentimental.  These letters capture Londoners at their best and worst and are an extraordinary historical record as well as examples of first-rate journalism.

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4. Framley Parsonage (1861) – Anthony Trollope
I had some reservations but, for the most part, I adored the fourth book in Trollope’s Barsetshire series.  Trollope’s handling of the virtues and failings of his young men reminded me once more of the truthfulness of his writing (and the consistency of human beings, regards of the century) while his female characters, young and old, were delightfully strong, funny, and sympathetic.

3. The Harold Nicolson Diaries (2004) – edited by Nigel Nicolson
An absorbing and revealing collection of wonderfully-written diaries and letters, I loved getting to glimpse all the different facets of Nicolson’s character, from youth to old age.

2. A Time of Gifts (1977) – Patrick Leigh Fermor
In another year, this might have grabbed the top spot.  Fermor’s account of the first leg of the charmed journey he took across Europe as a teenager is beautifully written and had me longing to set out on adventures of my own. Speaking of Jane Austen

1. Speaking of Jane Austen (1943) – Sheila Kaye-Smith and G.B. Stern
All the other titles on this list were wonderful but not nearly as wonderful as this collection of delightfully eccentric Austen-focused essays.  And, of course, it is the only book I have ever come across that spends a sufficient amont of time lavishing praise on the deserving Emma (if you are looking for the fastest way to my heart, look no further).

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Happiness in Marriage

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It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. – Nietzsche

I love to read books that explore affectionate marriages and Valentine’s Day seems an appropriate day to celebrate them.  So many novels and plays seem to assume that romance and even love fade as soon as the honeymoon is over.  Back from the honeymoon?  Time for the adultery to begin!  What a sad world it would be if that were true.  But real life – daily interaction with many happily married couples – has proven to me that it is not the case.  And when it comes to books, long-standing relationships always provide more fascinating and complex material than courtships which last only a few years or months.  The day-to-day challenges of maintaining a relationship, of working to sustain it through those years when work and children demand your attention and exhaust your patience, as you yourself change through the decades – how could that not be more interesting than a simple marriage plot which always ends at the altar?

Here are just five of my favourite books that provide glimpses into successful marriages:

A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer – Heyer’s best novel, the story of a marriage of convenience between a viscount and a wealthy merchant’s daughter who come with time to realise the value of quiet, steady, companionable love.

Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle – L’Engle’s touching memoir of forty years of marriage, written while her husband was dying.

Greenery Street by Denis Mackail – a delightful comedy about young, rather hopeless but very happy newlyweds

Dear Octopus by Dodie Smith – a wonderful play about a very entertaining family celebrating the 50th anniversary of the blissfully happy and resolutely optimistic parents, Charles and Dora.

The Laskett by Roy Strong –  a very personal memoir of a close marriage, cleverly disguised as a gardening book.

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I always have fun making this list but, for the first time, it was easy as well as fun.  There was no struggling over what belong in each spot and no angst-ridden hours spent juggling the merits of one book over another in deciding which deserved to make the list.  These are, without a doubt, the ten best books I read in 2012.  They have stuck in my mind since I read them and I cannot go a day without recommending at least one of them to friends, family members, other bloggers or people I randomly meet on the street (like the woman I met at the coffeeshop on Friday.  Such are the dangers of engaging me in conversation).  Without further ado, here are ten best books I read in 2012:

Best Books of 2012 - Part 1

10. The Home-Maker (1924) – Dorothy Canfield Fisher
This is, quite rightly, one of the best-loved Persephone titles among readers.  It is a wonderfully thoughtful book about gender roles, societal pressure, and personal fulfillment and treats all of its characters – adult or child – with respect for the everyday struggles they face.

9. Two-Part Invention (1988) – Madeleine L’Engle
This book was heartbreaking, beautiful, and, above all, surprising.  It is a portrait of L’Engle’s forty year marriage written during her husband’s final illness but it is also a reflection on her faith and what religion meant in her life.  It is a highly emotional and intelligent book and I cried more tears over this than anything else I read this year.

8. The Siren Years (1974) – Charles Ritchie
No matter how many times I read this (and I have lost count at this point), it remains the best wartime diary I have ever come across.   Ritchie’s diplomatic and social connections in London exposed him to an extraordinary variety of people, from political leaders and petty bureaucrats to authors and exiled royalty.  The joy of Ritchie’s diaries comes from the meld of political details and domestic ones.  I find it just as interesting to hear about how the Canadian High Commission handled refugee claims as I do to discover what Ritchie saw on his walk through London each day on the way to work or what he talked about at lunch with Nancy Mitford.     Best Books of 2012 - Part 2

7. Leningrad (2011) – Anna Reid
I still get chills thinking about this book, which looks at what happened to those trapped in Leningrad while it was under siege during the Second World War.  It is uncomfortable and upsetting to read but so very well done.

6. The Headmistress (1944) – Angela Thirkell
Possibly the most perfectly-formed of Thirkell’s Barsetshire novels, The Headmistress focuses on the experiences of the Belton family during the Second World War.  Mrs Belton, the middle-aged mother of three, is one of Thirkell’s best heroines.  Her struggles to understand her adult children and to live with her constant fear for her sons broke my heart.

5. The Laskett (2003) – Roy Strong
A gardening tome that even non-gardeners would love, this book describes the evolution of Strong’s garden at his country home, The Laskett.  Though there are plenty of details about the garden’s layout and plant choices, what makes this book special are the stories Strong shares about the friends and experiences that influenced the garden’s formation.  This is a garden that clearly reflects both Strong and his wife’s personalities and experiences and it is a book that acts as a tribute to their delightfully unique lives.  Best Books of 2012 - Part 3

4. Good Evening, Mrs Craven (1999) – Mollie Panter-Downes
A wonderfully varied collection of short stories about life in England during the Second World War.  Panter-Downes’ domestic focus exactly suits my tastes as does her interest in the quiet disappointments and muted struggles faced by her characters.  There is nothing sensational about the events in these stories, making them both relatable and, to me, touching.

3. It’s Too Late Now (1939) –  A.A. Milne
2012 was the year of Milne and as much as I loved his plays, his pieces for Punch, his passionate plea for pacifism, and his light verse, it was his autobiography that gave me the most pleasure.  Looking back on the first fifty-odd years of his life, Milne joyously recalls the happy days of his childhood and, later, his determined pursuit of a writing career.  It has nothing in common with gossipy tell-alls and that is part of what I loved about it.  It is a fun book to read and I suspect Milne had even more fun writing it.

2. Fräulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther (1907) – Elizabeth von Arnim
It has been a long time since I’ve fallen as hard for a fictional character as I did for Fräulein Rose-Marie Schmidt.  These letters, written to her erstwhile suitor Roger Anstruther, reveal a woman who is both romantic and practical, youthful and mature.  She is clever and funny and resilient and I want to be her almost as much as I want to befriend her. the-element-of-lavishness

1. The Element of Lavishness: Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell  (2001) – edited by Michael Steinman
I read this in January and, honestly, no other book I read this year came even close to eclipsing it in my affections.  I had never read anything by either Warner or Maxwell before and knew very little about either of them but that made no difference.  Through their letters, I got to know both of them intimately and to witness the wonderful warmth and depth of their friendship as it evolved over the decades.  While both were extraordinary writers, it is Warner’s letters I remember the best now, almost a year after I read them.  She wrote beautifully about the domestic details of her life and the letters written between the death of her partner Valentine and her own death are as good a record of aging and loss as I have ever read.

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Well, the Canadian Book Challenge 6 has officially started and, as promised, here is my book list. The aim of the challenge is to read 13 Canadian books over the course of a year, with “Canadian” being defined however you like.  It could mean that the book is set in Canada, that the author is Canadian, or that it is about a Canadian.  There are no rules about how you choose your books: some participants like to read one book from each of the thirteen provinces and territories, some like to concentrate on one geographic region, or on one author…you can really do whatever you like.  I, as usual, am entering the challenge with no particular plan, just the intention of reading as many Canadian books as I can and enjoying them all!  Accordingly, here is my very random reading list for the challenge: 

Fiction

New Under the Sun by Kevin Major
Needing a change, Shannon Carew takes a job in the National Parks system in Newfoundland and Labrador. The journey brings her life full circle, returning her to the birthplace she abandoned years before. As she makes new connections, and unearths old ones, Shannon learns the land holds many memories, stories of Maritime Archaic, the Vikings, the Basques, the Beothuk, and the Europeans who came after.

Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson
Seeking refuge from her mysterious past, the beautiful Mrs. Dorval arrives in a small British Columbia town at the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers. As Frankie Burnaby, the young schoolgirl Mrs. Dorval befriends, pieces together Hetty’s story, she begins to realize that her enigmatic idol is also a treacherous opponent.

No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
An astounding novel about family and ancestry from one of Canada’s greatest writers.

Underground by Antanas Sileika
Inspired by true events, Underground tells the story of a troubled romance between Lukas and Elena, two members of the underground Lithuanian resistance movement in mid-1940s.

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
…the internationally celebrated epic of a beleaguered country struggling to be free. It is the tale of a people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the tyrant king Brandin that even the very name of their once beautiful home cannot be spoken or remembered. But, years after their homeland’s devastation, a handful of men and women set in motion a dangerous crusade—to overthrow their conquerors and bring back to the world the lost brightness of an obliterated name: Tigana.

 

Children’s Books

The Guests of War Trilogy by Kit Pearson
Examining the experiences of two British children evacuated to Canada during the Second World War, I adored these three books growing up.

The Daring Game by Kit Pearson
I do love a good boarding school story.  Ironically, this is the only one of Pearson’s books I didn’t read as a child, though it is set at a fictionalized version of the school that I attended (and where Pearson was a boarder in the 1960s).

The Mountain and the Valley by Ernest Buckler
…an affectionate portrait of David Canaan, a sensitive boy who becomes increasingly aware of the difference that sets him apart from his family and his neighbours. David’s desire to write is the secret that gives this haunting story its detailed focus and its poignant theme.

 

Short Stories

Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro
What could be more quintessentially Canadian than a book of Munro’s short stories, especially this, her first?

The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod
Focusing on the complexities and abiding mysteries at the heart of human relationships, the seven stories of The Lost Salt Gift of Blood map the close bonds and impassable chasms that lie between man and woman, parent and child.

Glengarry School Days by Ralph Conner
The 15 sketches that make up Glengarry School Days look back affectionately on childhood in Ontario at the time of Confederation. Yet behind Connor’s delightful account of boyhood enthusiasms – and his clear desire for a more orderly and courageous world – lie glimpses of the moral rigidity that also characterized homesteading life in early Canada.

Copernicus Avenue by Andrew J. Borkowski
Set primarily in the neighbourhood of fictional Copernicus Avenue, Andrew Borkowski’s debut collection of short stories is a daring, modern take on life in Toronto’s Polish community in the years following World War II. Featuring a cast of young and old, artists and soldiers, visionaries and madmen, the forgotten and the unforgettable, Copernicus Avenue captures, with bold and striking prose, the spirit of a people who have travelled to a new land, not to escape old grudges and atrocities, but to conquer them.

Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich by Stephen Leacock
Of the many books by Canada’s most celebrated humorist, none has received more acclaim than his brilliant, caustic treatment of the glittering rich who gather at the Mausoleum Club on Plutoria Avenue.

 

Graphic

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
HARK! A VAGRANT takes readers on a romp through history and literature — with dignity for few and cookies for all — with comic strips about famous authors, their characters, and political and historical figures, all drawn in Beaton’s pared-down, excitable style. This collection features favourite stories as well as new, previously unpublished content. Whether she’s writing about Nikola Tesla, Napoleon, or Nancy Drew, Beaton brings a refined sense of the absurd to every situation.

Paul Has a Summer Job by Michel Rabagliati
This sweet and funny coming-of-age story marks a high-water mark in great old-fashioned storytelling in graphic novels. This book tells the story of Paul, a Montreal teenager who, against the backdrop of Quebec in the 1970s, tastes the freedom and responsibilities of adulthood for the first time. Thanks to plummeting grades, Paul defiantly quits high school and takes a job at factory. A year later, tired and depressed, Paul accepts a strange job offer to go be a counselor at a summer camp in the mountains run by a freewheeling Catholic priest. Paul finds himself guiding a motley band of kids– misfits, loners, and troublemakers — through the rough terrain of growing up.

Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China by Guy Delisle
I have read and loved Delisle’s other graphic memoirs (Burma Chronicles, Pyongyang, Jerusalem) so, of course, I am looking forward to this.

 

Non-fiction

A Thousand Farewells by Nahlah Ayed
A uniquely personal insight into the Middle East from one of Canada’s most respected foreign correspondents.

The Juggler’s Children: Family, Myth and a Tale of Two Chromosomes by Carolyn Abraham
Carolyn Abraham explores the stunning power and ethical pitfalls of using genetic tests to answer questions of genealogy–by cracking the genome of her own family.

Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile by Taras Grescoe
Ultimately, Straphanger’s subject is the city, and it offers a global tour of alternatives to car-based living, told through encounters with bicycle commuters, subway engineers, idealistic mayors and disillusioned trolley campaigners. Along the way, Grescoe meets libertarian apologists for the automobile, urbanists who defend suburban sprawl, champions of buses, rapid transit and light rail, and planners fighting to liberate cities from the empire of the automobile.

My Grandfather’s House by Charles Ritchie
In this book, Charles Ritchie looks back at some of the characters that peopled his childhood and youth, in the years before his brilliant career in Canada’s diplomatic corps began. In these essays we are introduced to his uncles, Harry “Bimbash” Stewart and the dashing, doomed Charlie Stewart; to his indomitable mother; to his mad cousin Gerald; to the newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook; to his college friend Billy Coster, who threw away wealth and a secure future; and to a host of others. With his usual unerring eye and elegant prose, Charles Ritchie brings them all to life again, with affection and wit.

I can’t wait to begin reading!

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"Le Parc de Saint Cloud, 1900" by Henri Lebasque

While I was on holidays last September, I posted a three part gardening reading list (see Part I, Part II, and Part III).  At the time, I asked for readers’ recommendations and promised to compile them into a fourth and final post.  I very promptly started on that post but one thing led to another…and here it finally is.  In January.  Which, really, is when I most want to read about gardens so let’s just pretend I cleverly planned it that way and this is really a product of my genius, not my absentmindedness.

Thank you very much to everyone who responded to my initial posts with their recommendations.  You all had wonderful suggestions and going through them again this week has only made me more determined to track these books down.

George Forrest, Plant Hunter by Brenda McLain
George Forest was a professional plant collector in the heyday of the British Empire. Risking his safety and health, he discovered hundreds of new species, introduced many plants to our gardens, and became one of the most outstanding plant collectors in the Sino-Himalaya. This book tells of Forrest’s adventures and his legendary escape from death at the hands of warring Lamas. It describes the impact of his plant discoveries and introductions and his competitiveness and rivalry with other plant hunters, Reginald Farrer, Frank Kingdon Ward and Joseph Rock.

Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine S. White
Whether White is discussing her favorite garden catalogs, her disdain for oversized flower hybrids, or the long rich history of gardening, she never fails to delight readers with her humor, lively criticism, and beautiful prose. But to think of Katharine White simply as a gardener, cautioned E. B. White in his introduction to the book, would be like insisting that Ben Franklin was simply a printer. Katharine White had vast and varied interests in addition to gardening and she brought them all to bear in the writing of these remarkable essays.

The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift
This is a book about time and the garden: all gardens, but also a particular one: that of the Dower House at Morville, where the author arrived in 1988 to make a new garden of her own.

Katherine Swift takes the reader on a journey through time, back to the forces which shaped the garden, linking the history of those who lived in the same Shropshire house and tended the same red soil with the stories of those who live and work there today. It is an account which spans thousands of years. But is also the story of one life: of relationships tested to breaking point, of despair and loss as well as joy and achievement. It is a journey through the seasons, but also a journey of self-exploration. It is a book about finding one’s place in the world and putting down roots.

The Laskett: The Story of a Garden by Sir Roy Strong
This is the story of a garden. It is also the portrait of a marriage expressed through the vision and mystery of creating a garden. Neither the author, Roy Strong, nor his wife, designer Julia Trevelyan Oman, had foreseen this when they eloped and married in 1971. Over thirty years on, they find themselves surrounded by the largest formal garden created in Britain since the war, increasingly recognized as one of the most important of the second half of the 20th century. And yet it was done not only with little money and less labor, but quite unconsciously. It is not, however, so much the horticultural triumph that will grip the reader as what this garden on the Welsh Borders in Herefordshire has come to mean in the lives of its creators. The Laskett is the story of a great love affair, a portrait of a marriage, a haunting and human tale of a garden as the domain of ghosts and as the habitat of memory. No one who reads this remarkable book will put it down unmoved.

The 3,000 Mile Garden by Roger Phillips and Leslie Land
Two professional gardeners, one British, the other American, having met at a New Hampshire “mushroom foray,” continue to share their gardening adventures in this delightful collection of their letters.

The Invisible Garden by Dorothy Sucher
A longtime city dweller and expert storyteller takes a fresh look at gardening in Vermont, tapping the connection between the mysteries of the earth and those of the human spirit.

Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence – A Friendship in Letters edited by Emily Herring Wilson
A legendary editor at The New Yorker during its first thirty-four years, Katharine S. White was also a great garden enthusiast. In March 1958 she began publishing her popular column, “Onward and Upward in the Garden.” Her first column elicited loads of fan mail, but one letter in particular caught her attention. From Elizabeth Lawrence, a noted southern garden writer, it was filled with suggestions and encouragement. When Katharine wrote back her appreciation, she reported on her Maine garden and discussed the plants and books that interested her. Thus began a correspondence that would last for almost twenty years, until Katharine’s death in 1977.

Sissinghurst by Adam Nicolson
The story of this piece of land, an estate in the Weald of Kent, is told here for the first time from the very beginning. Adam Nicolson, who now lives there, has uncovered remarkable new findings about its history as a medieval manor and great sixteenth-century house, from the days of its decline as an eighteenth-century prison to a flourishing Victorian farm and on to the creation, by his grandparents Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, of a garden in a weed-strewn wreck.

Anything by Gladys Taber

In the Heart of the Garden by Helene Wiggin (fiction)
The tale of a garden in the heart of England, and the generations of women who have found solace there. The plot of land at Fritha’s Well first becomes a garden in AD 912. It lives through the terror of the Plague years, the divisions of Civil War, and the heartbreak of the Great War.

If you have any other suggestions, please mention them in the comments! 

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