60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to savour
This book is a delight (as is the garden in real life) The author is knowledgeable and paints the most vivid pictures. It is a book about the area of Shropshire she lives in, how it has evolved through the centuries, the house and garden and her sensitive reconstruction of it. She is a lady after my own heart with interests such as history, gardens, cats, flowers,...
Published on 26 Sep 2008 by L. Robinson
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a patchwork
This is one of my mother's favourite books. I usually like what she likes, so was keen to read it. My mum reads bits of it, dipping in here and there and coming back to favourite parts all the time. I read it all in one go. To be honest I think it is better read in sections, like my mum does. It is actually several stories, the history of her house and the surrounding...
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written,
This review is from: The Morville Hours: The Story of a Garden (Kindle Edition)This has been reviewed by better minds than mine, but I wanted to add that the writing is simply beautiful.
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely gentle tale.,
This review is from: The Morville Hours: The Story of a Garden (Hardcover)Full of good ideas on starting a garden from scratch, and then modifying it as cicumstances alter over the years.
5.0 out of 5 stars wow,
This review is from: The Morville Hours: The Story of a Garden (Kindle Edition)A beautifully, poetically written book, It is.a wonderful link between monastic life with its divisions of time and the seasons.
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming and unusual,
4.0 out of 5 stars Wide ranging and engaging,
5.0 out of 5 stars A life changing read,
That I did so is testament to the superb writing and meticulous research skills of Katherine Swift, who arrived at Morville Hall's Dower House in 1988 on a 20 year tenancy, persuading the National Trust to allow her to create a new garden from scratch.
While the book is ostensibly about the creation of the garden, there is a great deal more to it than that. The garden is the medium through which Katherine tells the history of this part of Shropshire, from prehistory when the land was shaped by glaciers, to the first tribes who inhabited the hill forts, the Romans, Saxons and the Normans who built the church of St Gregory in 1118.
Each section of the garden has a historical theme and is dedicated to a past occupant of the Hall, from the Elizabethan Smyths, to the six Victorian spinster sisters who lived there after the death of their father, well into the 1920s.
Indeed the pre-Reformation history of the site is reflected in the yew Cloister garden, when Morville was a Priory owned by Shrewsbury Abbey. The monks prospered for 400 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when the Prior was ejected and the new house built from the recycled stone of the Priory.
The gradual evolution of the Hall from its Elizabethan origins, acquiring its lodges to either side, its ornamental lawn and its 'haha' has parallels in many English country estates.
While the immensely detailed descriptions of plants and flowers went well over my head, the uses (medicinal and otherwise) to which they were put in medieval times did engage me.
Throughout the book, Elizabeth's own life story and that of her family are subtly interwoven within the narrative.
The principal device she employs as a structure for the book are the Hours of the Benedictine monastic day. Each `hour' from the early morning Vigils to the late evening Compline becomes a chapter, which she parallels with the seasons of the gardening year.
The book takes on more significance if you've visited the Dower House Garden, and that part of Shropshire around Bridgnorth where it's situated. Having been to Acton Round, Aston Eyre, Holdgate and the Corve Valley, the text acquires more resonance.
I find it has inspired me to return to explore the parts I haven't yet been to, to re-read the book and absorb more of the detail, and above all to take more interest in how communities, landscapes, and - yes, gardens! - came to be how they are.
While reading the book you are very quickly aware not only of Katherine's very keen intellect but her ability to synthesize very abstruse information and turn it into a highly instructive treatise, while keeping it readable and compelling for the uninitiated.
Above all it's the immense attention to detail and the countless hours of research it must have taken to acquire, that leave the most lasting impression.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle, very personal, story.,
This review is from: The Morville Hours: The Story of a Garden (Hardcover)A very deep account of a gardeners thought processes in the designing and tending of a garden.
Life and love of history of place.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book,
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most beautifully-written and affecting books I have ever read,
Katherine has set it out in the form of a book of hours, taking us through the structure of the day as written in these liturgical texts, and then spiralling out to encompass the months, the years and the geographical and social history of a place she has clearly come to love. And through it all she has woven a compelling and poignant account of her own family background, the events that shaped her, and the way in which the garden healed her as it took form.
The writing is sublime, and the richness of description and characterisation (both human, feline and otherwise) draw you deep into her beautiful realm so that coming to the end is a little heartbreaking. Katherine is as adept at the micro as the macro, taking her reader from the glacial formation of the landscape to the interior of a flower with exquisite finesse. The scents and sounds and earthy anchor of her garden are a joy to live with through her eyes and pen.
I have already given this book to three friends, and there will be many more. Thank you Katherine, for a joyous read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflective and thoughtful,
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The Morville Hours: The Story of a Garden by Katherine Swift (Hardcover - 6 May 2008)