It begins as Miranda and David Claybourne move into a country house with a once-beautiful garden. But reality turns out to be very different from their dream. Soon the latent unhappiness in the family begins to come to the surface, isolating each family member in a bubble of resentment and loneliness.
Then an enigmatic Frenchman arrives on their doorstep. With the wisdom of nature, he slowly begins to heal the past and the present. But who is he? When Miranda reads about his past in a diary she finds in the cottage by the garden, the whole family learns that a garden, like love itself, can restore the human spirit, not just season after season, but generation after generation.
Wise and winsome, poignant and powerfully moving, "The French Gardener" is a contemporary story told with an old-fashioned sensibility steeped in the importance of family and the magical power of love."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 113.
- Review Date: 2009-04-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Montefiore's well-crafted, evocative novel is instantly sensual and welcoming. When Miranda Claybourne's seven-year-old is expelled from school, the stylish Londoner, magazine writer and mother of two, ditches her posh Notting Hill digs for the idylls of a country estate. But her simple-life fantasies soon fail. Her husband's preoccupied with his job and his mistress; the kids lash out at each other while Gus, the elder, terrorizes both farm animals and his new classmates. Enter Jean-Paul, a handsome, mysterious Frenchman with an offer to tend her woefully neglected gardens. Cleaning out the estate's rundown cottage for Jean-Paul, she discovers the secret journals of the previous lady of the house—a brilliant gardener, Ava Lightly, and her love affair. As if by magic, Miranda's garden begins to thrive and she owes it all to Jean-Paul, with whom she thinks she's falling in love. The drama of the journals distract from her own failing marriage, and Miranda delights in the idea that her life is running parallel to Ava's—it's a lovely coincidence, until she stops to consider exactly what may have drawn Jean-Paul into her garden. (June)