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A Handful of Earth: A Year of Healing and Growing Paperback – 24 Jan 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (24 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719596106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719596100
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 745,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'She writes by turns movingly and humorously, but always beautifully ... gloriously uplifting' (Sunday Telegraph)

'Profoundly moving' (Daily Telegraph)

'Tender but resolutely unsentimental ... a grittily wise testament to life' (Financial Times)

Book Description

A memoir of love, loss and gardening

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has experienced loss of a loved one will enjoy this poignant and beautifully written book. There is a whole literature of loss and recovery, the most recent bestseller being Joan Didion's 'Year of Magical Thinking'. I believe that this book outstrips Didion's. I certainly preferred it and I think that its marvellous spare prose, and moving description of how gardening restored the author's shattered life will be enjoyed by any sensitive reader. The gardening advice is great too!
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Format: Hardcover
A magical book that marries emotion with a real sense of healing. At no time does the author get maudlin or overly sentimental. I loved the down to earth expression of feelings and the practicalities of moving forward after bereavement. The gardening advice isn't bad either! Bits made me laugh and others made me well up with tears. It will stay with me for a long time.
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Format: Paperback
Elizabeth (`Barney') Bardsley nursed her husband Tim through terminal cancer for more than ten years before he sadly succumbed to the illness. This book is the story of her coming to terms with her grief and loss, aided by her love of gardening. Diarised, it reflects on Barney's past and present across the course of one year- with both poignant anecdotes about her and Tim's relationship and his illness, as well as what she is up to on her allotment and in her garden at the moment. Whilst the writing about Tim and her family is somewhat bittersweet, her attitude towards her garden is quite matter of fact in places, which adds a nice balance to the narrative. A keen gardener myself, I found her `lists of jobs' for the month to be very useful- and I picked up some great gardening ideas too!

I usually tend to avoid memoirs dealing with grief and loss because I find them too upsetting, but I was drawn to this book by the cover and the gardening aspect, and I am so glad that I gave it a try. The author has been through such a lot of sadness and consequently it could have been very easy for this book to get too mired down in sentiment or become overly heavy and maudlin in places- but the beautiful prose and attention to detail that the author pays to her garden and of her plants slowly creeping to life around her as the seasons change, ultimately ensures that this books final message is one of hope. I actually found this to be a very uplifting and engaging book to read. It is also a wonderful way for her to honour her husband's memory- I felt like I knew them both by the time I had finished reading.

Highly recommended. This is a book that will stay with me and will undoubtedly be a thought-provoking (and also possibly inspiring) read for many people out there.
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Format: Paperback
In this memoir Barney Bardsley tells how she coped in the year after her husbands death from a rare form of cancer.She nursed him through ten years of illness and gives an honest account of how difficult this was.Barney found some solace in her allotment and gives a month by month guide to what she planted , and how the earth and nature ,the change in the seasons, reminded her of previous years,and helped with the grief and pain of loss.Although very sad, it is written with humour and self deprecating style.The theme of growth and renewal and the humanity of those around is inspirational. I think this is a courageous book.I found the book engaging and well written ,and to be very moving.I am a carer and found it encouraging . I think this book will strike a chord with many people .
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Format: Paperback
I found this book beautiful and inspiring. On the surface, a gardening diary for a year, but Barney's allotment soon turns out to be her way of mourning her husband who died from cancer. Her thoughts on Tim, though very sad at times, just seem to get to the nub of the point, either making me cry or laugh along with her. Then there are the little witty asides, like the life of the daddy-long-legs - that just made me laugh out loud! `Hardly worth the bother' indeed!
The diary idea also works better and better as the book goes on; more than just a year of her life, it seemed to me to somehow define her growing understanding of life as a whole...she certainly learnt a lot from their suffering, and shares some of this with the reader. Her motto - `keep on trying', `dont give up' - inspired me! A must read for anyone trying to come to terms with grief and lots of lessons for the rest of us. Thanks; I couldn't put the book down, but didn't want to finish it....the very definition of a good book to me!
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Format: Paperback
I was sitting in an airport lounge reading a random article in a paper, which featured Barney Bardsley. Why am I telling you this? Because that's how I discovered one of the best books that I have read in a long time. This not only deals with the emotions of bereavement and coping with loss but it does it in a way that you recognise. Barney Bardsley has the gift of explaining how many of us feel at such times and she does it in a manner that feels like a conversation with a friend. While sad in many places, it is equally fun, entertaining and wonderfully instructive. For the budding gardener then this is true joy as we share the successes and not such great successes in both the allotment and garden. For me it is the little observations that make this so special - it is a joy to read.

I grew up in Leeds and attended St Gemma's when it was a primary school (run by Sisters of the Cross and Passion - always cross and they only showed real passion when applying discipline!) It is delightful to think that it is now such a place of peace; when she describes her husband's admission in October 2003 the phrase 'infinite kindness' stayed with me. Her descriptions of the city; the buildings, the parks, the allotment, all brought back a host of memories.

This is a true joy and one of those rare books that make you feel better about all sorts for having read it. Barney Bardsley eschews sympathy but simply expresses her feelings and thoughts with such clarity and description that you find yourself re-reading sections wondering how does she know that that is exactly how you feel too? I have bought it as a gift for friends and they have all loved it too. So thank you Barney, Molly, Muffin and Tim for enriching our lives.
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