I’ve been reading quite a bit lately, mostly novels written in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. They are pleasant reads which don’t require too much effort and because of when they were written, they generally have an expected, happy, ending. Or if not happy, at least pleasant.
While reading, I often find references to gardening which has prompted me to rate non-gardening books on this basis alone. What do they tell us about gardening and gardeners?
I am giving the novel Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym (1953) two flowers for two excellent gardening references.
Reference number 1:
Borrow a lawnmower in the depths of winter? That is hilarious.
And then there was this:
Who else has the power to disappear in a garden, only to “micraculously” return at just the right moment? I was reminded of how Agatha Christie wrote in Nemesis, “Gardening is as good as a smoke screen… to explain how Miss Jane Markle managed to not be seen snooping around when out in a garden. (Many of Christie’s mysteries receive numerous flowers from me in my rating system due to the well-placed references to both gardeners and plants throughout.)
I will give Ms. Pym four flowers for Some Tame Gazelle (1950), which gives us several thoughts on gardening, including this definition of “splendid.”
Even without the goat reference, this one stands up quite well, does it not?
And then there was this information about plants:
Plants really can stand up to a lot. Unless they are really expensive and then you’d better not look at them with anything but a smile. (My thoughts, not Pym’s.)
And this meditation on digging:
Who amongst has not worshiped in such a manner in a garden?
I also read her book Exellent Women (1952) and found within its pages a good definition of “independent” that relates to gardening, so it gets at least two flowers in my completely arbitrary book rating method.
Now on to the next novel Ms. Pym wrote, Less than Angels (1955). Given the subtle references to gardening in her first three books, I have high high hopes for more in this one. I’ll report back soon.