Book Review: ‘The Twilight Garden’ by Sara Nisha Adams

A delightful story!

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Book Title: The Twilight Garden
Author: Sara Nisha Adams
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 978-0008658571
Date Published: Jul. 10, 2023
Price: INR 378

The Twilight Garden by Sara Nisha Adams Book Cover

Book Review

The Twilight Garden” is a novel by Sara Nisha Adams, a writer and editor based in London. The book is about two sets of neighbors living in identical houses on Eastbourne Road, London, in different periods, and how a shared garden connects them with a history of bringing people together. The book explores the themes of grief, loneliness, friendship, and healing through the power of nature and community.

The book alternates between two timelines: 2019 and 1986. In 2019, the readers met Winston and Bernice, neighbors but not friends. Winston is an Indian man who works as a shop assistant and has a strained relationship with his family. Bernice is a divorced British woman with a young son named Leo. They both live in houses that have a neglected garden in between them. One day, Winston receives a letter from an anonymous sender, who tells him about the history and significance of the garden and how it used to be a place of joy and refuge for many people. Winston becomes curious and decides to revive the garden with the help of Leo, who loves plants and animals. Bernice is initially reluctant but gradually joins them as she sees how the garden improves their lives.

In 1986, we meet Maya and Alma, who are also neighbors but become friends. Maya is an Indian woman who has moved to London from Kenya with her husband, Prem. Alma is an elderly British woman who lives alone and loves gardening. They both live in houses that have a beautiful garden in between them, which Alma has cultivated over the years. Maya and Alma bond over their shared passion for gardening and support each other through their struggles. Maya faces racism and isolation in her new country, while Alma suffers from dementia and loneliness. They both find solace and happiness in the garden, which becomes their sanctuary.

The book is well-written, engaging, and moving. Adams creates realistic and relatable characters that make us care about their stories. She also describes the garden vividly, making us feel its beauty and magic. She also shows how the garden affects different people’s lives across time and space, creating a sense of connection and continuity. It’s a story of kindness and hope with some sadness, with the 1970/8O’s timeline occasionally having a darker and unsettling side. There’s some well-placed humor interspersed with the themes, and there’s joy and energy between Seb (Bernice’s young son) and Winston, which is so enjoyable. It’s colorfully and vividly told so those who live on the road spring to life in all their diversity. There are many characters to like, and even those who don’t endear at the start become transformed like the garden.

One of the book’s weaknesses is it is slow-paced and melancholic at times. Some readers may find reading about the characters’ problems and sorrows boring or depressing. The book does not have much plot or action, as it focuses more on the characters’ emotions and relationships. Also, the length of the book felt tedious.

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The book can be compared with books that feature gardens as a central theme or symbol, such as The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, or The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. These books also explore how gardens can heal, inspire, or transform people’s lives in different ways.

The Twilight Garden” is a touching and uplifting novel that celebrates the power of nature and community to heal broken hearts and souls. It is also a tribute to the people who care for gardens and make them live. The book is written in a simple, elegant style that appeals to adults and children. I recommend this book to anyone who loves gardens, stories, or both.

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