Friday 25 January 2008

Consider the Lily by Elizabeth Buchan

Our former neighbour, Gill, was an expert gardener. This woman can make rocks grow.

She gave me this book to read and whilst it is not my usual style and I would not have bought it myself, it does a mind good to step out of the usual comfort zone and try something new.

Set in southern England just after the first World War it follows the fortunes of several families whose lives are intertwined in the London society. It is a story of heartbreak; of decisions made for all the wrong reasons leading to catastrophic events and how the lives of those who came before us shape the lives we chose to lead.

Kit is a man whose families has suffered numerous tragedies and whose financial fortune including the stately home which has been in his family for decades is threatened with a difficult decision between the woman he loves and the woman who has the money. Without the money the home and the way of life he is accustomed to will disintegrate.

Matty, the woman with the money, loves Kit although she knows she shouldn't and that he can never return her feelings.

Daisy, the woman he loves, cannot give Kit the future he desires. And so he chooses to marry Matty.

Matty cannot have the child she so desperately longs for and the marriage is rocked with infidelities. After restoring the home to its former glory, Matty turns her attention to restoring the to surrounding gardens.

I liked Matty as a character. She was sympathetic and I understood her plight. Kit did what he thought he had to do out of duty which at that point in time was a powerful motivator. I only lost sympathy with him when he kept returning to Daisy time and time again.

Daisy was the only character I was repulsed by. I found her manipulative and shallow. Other than lust I think Kit would have been bored stiff if he had followed his desire to marry her.

I can't say that the ending was a surprise and since I am not such a keen gardener (although I wish I was) I found bits of the book dull and felt quite a bit should have been edited out given its 574 pages of tiny print.

I also tend to have a rather vivid imagination and can usually conjure up the scenes in my mind's eye. I found it a challenge to do this. It is perhaps my lack of botanical knowledge that hampered my efforts in this area.

I enjoyed the book and it was a relaxing read although not exactly a thought provoking challenge.

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