Sunday, September 20, 2009

The White Garden-Stephanie Barron

The White Garden
Stephanie Barron
Bantam, Sep 29 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780553385779

American Jo Bellamy comes to England to study the famous White Garden at Sissinhurst Castle. The landscape designer has been hired by wealthy Long Island patrons to recreate the work of Vita Sackville West, lover of Virginia Woolf.

Jo conceals that her visit also contains a personal need. Her grandfather who worked at the White Garden committed suicide. The present gardener gives Jo a six decade old journal he found while rummaging in the tool shed; he believes Ms. Woolf was the author. Jo is stunned especially when the last entry occurs after Ms. Woolf died. She begins to follow the footsteps of Ms. Woolf seeking missing pages and answers to what happened in March 1941 when Virginia Woolf drowned in the Ouse with her pockets filled with stones.

Purposely loaded with hyperbolic stereotypes to accentuate the writings of Virginia Woolf, THE WHITE GARDEN is a terrific literary mystery that hooks readers from the onset and never slows down as Jo tracks her heroine’s death. The suspenseful story line is fast-paced throughout, but driven by the insight into the late writer’s life and works; these are seen through Jo’s follow her not afraid of Virginia Woolf thread. Stephanie Barron allows Jane Austen a breather as she successfully switches to another writing legend.

Harriet Klausner

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