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The Memory Garden [Paperback]

Rachel Hore
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Aug 2007
Lamorna Cove, in Cornwall's far west, is a tiny bay set at the mouth of a secluded wooded valley of wild beauty, the haunt, a hundred years ago, of a close-knit colony of artists. Here, to a rented cottage in the overgrown gardens of Merryn Hall, Melanie Pentreath retreats from her busy London life as a lecturer in art history to research a book about the painters, and to seek solace following the death of her mother and a broken love affair. In this magical place, full of echoes of the past, Mel helps her landlord, Patrick Winterton, restore the garden and starts to pull together the shreds of her life. Patrick finds some old paintings in a glory hole in one of the attics, and as they uncover the identity of the artist they are drawn into an extraordinary story of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from the Edwardian past which proves resonant in Mel's own life. Merryn is an idyll, and Mel and Patrick, himself here to escape a romantic disappointment, find themselves drawing closer to one another - until the reality of the outside world once more intervenes and everything is threatened.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (6 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416511008
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416511007
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing at UEA. She is married to writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons.

Visit Rachel at, or follow her on Twitter @rachelhore

Product Description


'Melanie escapes from her busy London life to Cornwall... But an attic discovery means she turns detective instead' -- Star Magazine, August 13 2007

'...the extraordinary world of illicit Edwardian passion. An engrossing read!' -- Yours Magazine, August 14, 2007

'Rachel Hore knows the tricks of her trade and keeps the pages turning by adding a hint of a past mystery, too. Cleverly done'
-- Now Magazine, August 13 2007

'Rachel's Hore's second novel is pitched perfectly for a holiday read' -- The Guardian, August 11 2007

'Tiny, hidden Lamorna the backdrop to two huge tales of illicit passion and thwarted ambition... Clever stuff' -- Daily Mirror, August 17, 2007

About the Author

Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing at UEA. She is married to writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
146 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading 16 Oct 2007
Despite an intriguing premise I was a little bit dubious as to how two sets of characters divided by a century might gel to a satisfactory conclusion. I need not have worried.

The story tracks the fortunes of Mel Pentreath, a lecturer who takes a sabbatical from her job in London to go to write and heal her emotional wounds in Cornwall.

A love story at its best. As a reader I found myself captivated by the story to find who, if anyone would win Mel's heart as she finds herself confronted with potential male suitors - both past and present. The story of Pearl, set one hundred years earlier is equally enchanting.

A fantastic read, great characterisation, truly unputdownable. One of those books that stays with you long after you finish reading it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A light holiday novel..... 13 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I chose this Rachel Hore book as I thoroughly enjoyed The Glass Painter's Daughter. The plot and sub-plot in both stories describe contrasting lifestyles and the links between the past and the present.

Her research on the Newlyn and Lamorna artists is excellent, as are the lyrical, evocative descriptions of Cornwall. However, The Memory Garden does not flow in as interesting and captivating way as The Glass Painter's Daughter. I felt that it had perhaps been "padded out" in places, with a few too many superfluous characters and would have been improved by losing around a quarter of it's length.

The main character, Mel, is eclipsed by her counterpart in the past scenes, Pearl - who is a far stronger characterisation. Mel is annoyingly takes until the end of the book for her to make up her mind about what she really wants...but I guess, that's life! There is a recurring theme concerning men who run from emotional commitment (Mr "Right-out-here"s), and women who strive for professional and personal recognition.

I enjoyed the best - the parts of the book where Patrick (main love interest) and Mel gradually uncover the "lost garden" - echoes of Heligan here. The juxtaposition of the two storylines converge in special parts of the garden - a clever construct.

The early 1900s story has pathos, romance and tragedy. The modern story didn't quite balance this, even though it was a valiant attempt.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ok 6 Oct 2009
By megan
I chose this book on an amazon recommendation.....whilst a good is not a house at riverton or the forgotton garden by Kate Morton.....her books are obviously quite difficult an act to follow!!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Light Read 2 April 2009
I would recommend this as a light, romantic read (somthing which i was not expecting when i purchsed the book). It tells great tales of the past and was read within merely a few days.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth reading 11 Jan 2009
By mettest
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A novel filled with so many clichés and banalities and awful metaphors that it's almost funny. The story may be good or it may be bad, it doesn't matter, since the language is so flat and un-original that it would ruin any story. You wonder how anybody can write like this and get published. I kept on reading it only out of curiousity: could this really go on and on for 400 pages - and, lo and behold: it could, and I did, and I deserve a medal for my perseverance.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries too Hard to Be Romantic 14 Sep 2011
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had such mixed feelings about this book! It could have been a really interesting story, but never quite got there. Like most of Hore's novels, it's in part contemporary, part historical. In the contemporary parts of the book, art historian and university lecturer Melanie (I think she's meant to be a teacher at Goldsmith's College, but it might be another South London college), depressed at a split from her boyfriend Jake (a name rarely met in real life but often chosen for rakish figures in romantic fiction) heads off to Cornwall to do some research on the Lamorna School of painters (a group of artists who came in between the 19th-century Newlyn and the 20th-century St Ives schools). At the Cornish manor house of her landlord Patrick, Mel becomes intrigued by a wonderful picture of a garden - soon, she is trying to find out more about the artist, who she realizes was influenced by the Lamorna School, and also help Patrick restore the gardens of his house. The story of the artist, a lady's maid called Pearl who worked at the house in the early 20th century and longed to become a painter, is told in parallel with Mel's.

This could have been a fascinating story about art and what it was like to be a woman artist in the early 20th century, compared to now. But after some fascinating early stuff about the Lamorna School (well researched by the author) Hore drifts off into a rather wishy-washy romance between Mel and Patrick, full of stilted rather sentimental dialogue. Patrick never quite works as a hero - he comes across rather as a Mr Darcy without the energy and the interesting bits! And his hesitating between Mel and his former girlfriend Bella (a positively horrible caricature) simply seems feeble.
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66 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!!! 2 Mar 2008
I read this book because i was getting bored with the usual girly reads and i'm so glad i did! This book is amazing. The descriptions are fantastic, not too long that you get bored but so accurate you can picture yourself driving through cornwall and digging the garden with them! I love cornwall so the combination of the area and the history behind the house is great. I loved the way the book goes between the past history of pearl, the hidden secrets behind their lives and the love story interlinking it all! The final chapter was enough to make me reach for the tissue box! A great read which leaves you wanting more and more! Read it cause you'll love it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 5 days ago by rachel mathews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachel Hore is a very good writer, she conveys past times perfectly...
Rachel Hore is a very good writer, she conveys past times perfectly and intermingles them with present day, always full of mysterious twists and turns while not losing sight of the... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Miu miu Lin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very good read.
Published 8 days ago by Namas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 10 days ago by Kathleen Salvage
4.0 out of 5 stars The memory garden
an excellent light read. well written, the story is complex but believable. the character's are interesting to get to know and the gardening is reasonably accurate

I... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Donna
5.0 out of 5 stars Memory Garden
I read this whilst on my recent stay in Cormwall and was able to identify many of the place names and locations used.
Published 1 month ago by Gillyflower
4.0 out of 5 stars Hore ties the past & present together beautifully again
Rachel Hore has made it her speciality to write books which seek to tie together stories from the past with those of today. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Laura smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
lovely easy reading on summer holiday.
Published 1 month ago by lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting
Yet again as with her other books it holds you spellbound as the story unfolds. Once again she has used her magic with the written word.
Published 3 months ago by Sheila C Bulloch
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great read
Rachel Hore books always want you turning each page.................. They seem to grab you on the first page and you just cant put them down
Published 3 months ago by Ms S Flowerday
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