The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White

The Unfinished GardenThe Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White

  • ISBN-13: 9780778314127
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Source: ARC from Pages of Forbidden Love


James Nealy is haunted by irrational fears and inescapable compulsions. A successful software developer, he’s thrown himself into a new goal—to finally conquer the noise in his mind. And he has a plan. He’ll confront his darkest fears and build something beautiful: a garden. When he meets Tilly Silverberg, he knows she holds the key…even if she doesn’t think so.

After her husband’s death, gardening became Tilly’s livelihood and her salvation. Her thriving North Carolina business and her young son, Isaac, are the excuses she needs to hide from the world. So when oddly attractive, incredibly tenacious James demands that she take him on as a client, her answer is a flat no.

When a family emergency lures Tilly back to England, she’s secretly glad. With Isaac in tow, she retreats to her childhood village, which has always stayed obligingly the same. Until now. Her best friend is keeping secrets. Her mother is plotting. Her first love is unexpectedly, temptingly available. And then James appears on her doorstep.

Away from home, James and Tilly forge an unlikely bond, tenuous at first but taking root every day. And as they work to build a garden together, something begins to blossom between them—despite all the reasons against it.

My Thoughts:

I am not sure if it was the beauiful cover or the interesting blurb that first grabbed my attention for The Unfinished Garden.  Typically, I would say that I am not drawn to books in this genre.  If I read “romance” books they are typically a part of a series that I have been reading for years and very rarely a stand alone story.  There was just something that grabbed my attention and I am glad that it did.

I found The Unfinished Garden to be emotional on many different levels.  The story opens with Tilly, who has recently become a widow, and her son, Issac, getting by in their lives after the dramatic changes.  Tilly has turned to gardening, something that is keeping her sane.  She is surprised when a stranger, James as we will learn, shows up at her home and basically demands that she design his garden.  This is something that Tilly just does not do and flat out refuses the business.  What Tilly does not expect is James to continue to force the issues, it seems that he will just not take no for an answer.

Unexpectedly, Tilly’s mother falls and hurts herself.  Tilly and Issac take off for England and where she grew up to take care of her mother.  The ever persistant James calls her there again demanding that she take him on as a client.  Tilly doesn’t know what else to do but tell him that she will think about it.  When Tilly does not follow through with her promise James shows up in Englad and turns life upside down.  There is tension between James and her old friends, something that she did not expect.    She comes up with the plan that she will teach James how to garden using her oldest friend’s mother’s garden.  It isn’t long before Tilly figures out that James has OCD, which adds to this adventure.  James ends up being the rock that Tilly needs through some health issues.  And James has completely fallen for Tilly causing issues all over the place.  While all of this is happening, Tilly’s mother announces that she will be selling Tilly’s childhood home. And the drama continues.

I enjoyed the depth of this story, it was so real.  At first, I was thinking there is no way that all of these things could be happening in just one woman’s life but the further the story line developed the more real it became.  I was drawn in and just could not put the book down.  The book was much deeper and emotional that I thought it would be and I figured that it would be high emotion thoughout.  Barbara Clayp0le White has a way with creating characters and storylines that at first seem so unreal but as it move on just spring to life and you wonder what you were thinking.

I love that I was able to connect with Tilly so easily.  She had such deep rooted pain and watching he blossom and change throughout the story was a pleasure.  While, we did not get to know Issac all that well, his impact on Tilly was paramount.  I cannot imagine Tilly without Issac and the life she has built for them.  James and his OCD had me drawn in.  I feel as though I knew very little about OCD prior to reading this story.  Let me clairfy, I knew what it was but I did not undestand how it effected people.  This description gave me a much stronger understanding.  I think that I have been miselad by some of the other media I have encountered about OCD.  This was a very real and raw exposure and one that I am glad that I got. 

Expect tears when reading this story, it will tug at your heartstrings.

My Rating:

4 Penguins