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Secrets of the Italian Gardener Kindle Edition
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An interesting book full of unexpected twists and turns that shows a real understanding of the kind of situation he is writing about.
A very readable and short book (148 pages) perfect to curl up on the sofa with on a rainy autumn day, and lose yourself in another world. Go buy!
I think this book has a really interesting premise. Mo is a wealthy dictator of a country dealing with civil unrest, who hires a ghostwriter in order to tell his story. He lives in a beautiful palace, and I found the depictions of the beautiful gardens versus the sounds of explosions and gunfire really striking. There is that sense of unease that lingers throughout the ghost writer’s time in the palace. There is definitely more going on than meets the eye, and he is unable to find out more due to the extreme amount of security. The writing is really beautiful, and it definitely keeps the reader wanting more. The books characters are all extremely well portrayed, from Mo, the elusive dictator who only wants the good aspects of his character to come out, to Caroline, the wife of the main character. I really liked Lo, who was once Mo’s second in command, but decided that life as a gardener was much simpler.
For such a short novella, the book deals with a lot of different themes. It deals with grief, and the loss of a family member and what that does to those left behind. It also deals with political unrest, and what happens when a country needs to see change in their systems. But most importantly, Secrets of the Italian Gardner deals with family and friendships, and how these are the most important things in life, far more than money, fame and success. I also found it really interesting that Crofts managed to slip in a discussion on the morals of taking such a job as ghostwriting the autobiography of a wealthy dictator. The character’s wife Caroline scoffs and suggests he shouldn’t take it, they only want him for his credible reputation, however he takes it, which raises the question of how far someone will go for a large sum of money, even if it is outwith their beliefs.
Secrets of the Italian Gardener is a very powerful novel, and one that stayed with me long after I’d finished reading. I wasn’t as keen on the ending of the book as I was the rest of the story, but I think that was partly because it was the complete opposite of what I expected to happen. I enjoyed it from beginning to end and it is probably my favourite piece of literary fiction that I’ve read this year. A powerful and thought provoking book!
Secrets Of The Italian Gardener is such a clever and disturbing book. Metaphorical (or maybe more accurately, metaphysical) and philosophical, Andrew Crofts makes the reader question every underlying principle in their life. Just how would they behave in the same circumstances as the ghost writer? The terrible sense of unease this book creates is enhanced by the fact we do not get the ghost writer’s name, just a first person account, so that he could be any one of us. I think I would do exactly the same as he and his wife Caroline and this worries me. The ghost writer sells his soul to the devil, but his reasons are fully understandable. It is for this reason that I finished reading Secrets Of The Italian Gardener feeling completely disturbed.
Alongside the metaphorical elements, there is an exciting plot as the compound in which the Italian gardener, Lou, is working and where the majority of the book is set comes under increasing threat as the people in the street become violent and rebellious. I was reminded of every similar scene I’ve witnessed vicariously on television and again I felt uncomfortable as Andrew Croft made me complicit in the action just by reading the story.
The gardening theme was an aspect that Andrew Croft handled with consummate skill. Gardening is seen as a benevolent activity, but the things planted in the pristine gardens of Mo’s compound are not what we might expect and there’s so much more to Lou, the gardener, than meets the eye. This aspect of Secrets Of The Italian Gardener left me feeling shocked and not a little naive.
Other themes of personal grief, loyalty, marriage and love mean that there is lightness to balance the shade in the prose so that, although this is a relatively short novella, there is much to ponder and contemplate. I found Secrets Of The Italian Gardener totally mesmerising as it took me on a journey about human nature and made me question who is innocent and who is guilty. Ultimately, however, it left me feeling hope. There is the chance for nature to heal.
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