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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 24 October 2013
Caroline Zoob's book on Virginia Woolf's garden is a pleasure to browse through and to read. Caroline, a textile artist (who has written a book on embroidered textiles: The Hand-Stitched Home) and her husband, Jonathan, lived on the upper floors of Monk's House, in East Sussex, for over a decade as tenants of the National Trust, where they cared for the house and the Woolf's beautiful garden throughout that time. Caroline explains how the garden developed over the years Virginia and Leonard lived there and, of course, the many years that Leonard lived there alone after Virginia's death.

Both Virginia and Leonard were very interested in their garden; Virginia was keen to have a garden as attractive as her sister's (the artist Vanessa Bell, who had a wonderful garden at Charleston Farmhouse, a few miles down the road); and Leonard, who started off as an amateur gardener, soon became an expert, growing not just a wide variety of flowers, but fruit (apples, cherries, plums, figs and pears) and vegetables too. Virginia, in common with other well-known writers, worked in a writing room in the garden - Virginia's writing room was a wooden lodge tucked into a corner of the orchard with attractive views of the garden. ("There will be open doors in front; and a view right over to Caburn. I think I shall sleep there on summer nights" Virginia wrote when planning her lodge). Virginia and Leonard also had an extension built to the main house to provide a ground floor bedroom for Virginia, and she found it a wonderfully light and inspiring room with its views onto the garden. In a letter to her friend, the composer Ethel Smythe, Virgina wrote: "I sleep and dress in full view of the garden." (She also added that one day, she found the benign face of the gardener looking in at her).

With some beautiful and wonderfully inspiring photographs of all areas of the garden: the fishpond garden; the Millstone terrace; the Italian Garden; the walled garden; the bowling lawn; and some attractive pictures of the old flint walls and brick paths, this book is an absolute delight to the eyes. In addition to the photographs of the garden, this book contains some enticing shots of the interior of Monk's House, and there are also several black and white photographs of Leonard and Virginia in their garden, which are lovely to see. If you like gardening, you will enjoy this book; if you are interested in Virginia Woolf and her writing you will enjoy this book (in her short story 'The Orchard' Virginia wrote about a girl who dreams she is in heaven and wakes to find herself in an orchard surrounded by apple trees - a story that was obviously inspired by her own garden and orchard at Monk's House); however, if you are an admirer of Virginia Woolf AND you enjoy gardens and gardening, you will absolutely love this book. Treat yourself, or put this on your Christmas list, but do get a copy.

5 Stars

Also recommended: Charleston: A Bloomsbury House and Gardens and The Garden at Charleston: A Bloomsbury Garden through the Seasons
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on 8 November 2013
What a wonderful book to dip into, but also for a longer more meaningful read. The photography is luscious and the garden design inspiring. All in the context of the enticing Bloomsberry set photographs and history. My mum will love it And I may well borrow it from her!
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on 2 April 2014
This beautiful book has touching surprises. Embroidered gardens, planting plans, biography on Virginia and Leonard, and beautiful photography. I am enjoying reading and relaxing in its pages. It makes me want to journey to see the garden for myself Highly recommend!
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on 5 November 2013
A great read, stunning photography with glimpses of Caroline's embroideries.
If you love gardens, Virginia Woolf, and visiting houses this is the book for you.
I couldn't put it down once I started reading.
Having visited Monks House, which I loved, through Caroline's words I escaped back into the garden and house.
It is such a shame that the Zoobs are no longer tenants at this lovely house, it needs to be lived in and loved as they and the Woolfs did, so brilliantly.
I am so glad there is a record of a garden much loved as in Virginia and Leonards day, sadly it does not look so good since they and the Zoobs left.
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on 10 February 2014
I bought this for a friend who has visited Monk's House. Being a gardener herself, and having the bonus of excerpts from Virginia Woolf's diary and seeing her embroidered ideas of how the garden should look, were the icing on the cake. She loves it!
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on 8 February 2014
The pictures in the book are beautiful. The story intriguing and well written. I will revisited it often, if only to look at the pictures!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 6 January 2014
Here is a book I truly adored. Yes, I am a fan of Virginia Woolf, and one of Caroline Zoob's too. This book melds personality, style and interest with the perfect blend of information and photography of a beautiful garden. It offers connections, both to Virginia's family but also because the author of this book cared for Monk House for over ten years. The knowledge is intimate, the story of the garden compelling and beautifully told and the photography by Caroline Archer is sublime. The book is supported by rare archive images, garden plans and snippets of the Woolf's writing. It also shows some of Vanessa Bell's paintings. Looking through Virginia's life and words, Caroline Zoob has managed to capture the spirit of the garden. Every page of this book is of interest, there are not many books that achieve that. This book is exciting and inspiring in many ways.
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on 20 January 2014
Bought this book for my mum for Christmas. Fantastic photography combining photos of the garden, archive photos and also pictures of Caroline Zoob's embroideries of the garden, a great mix. Great quality book
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on 11 September 2014
First, let me say that I find this kind of garden beautiful. This perhaps skews my review...

As a keen reader of gardening books, I’d rate this book very high on my list. Wonderful photographs that make me wish to have all this and that in our garden too. I was captured by the insights on VW and her relationship with the garden (and guests arriving there) that complement her diary. And finally, I fell for the lovely interior of the house which could inspire any modern countryside house.

Excellent for bedtime or rainy day reading!
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on 15 January 2014
Fascinating and a truly beautiful and inspirational read. The photos are wonderful and the gardens scream out to be visited.
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