The China Garden

Liz Berry, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $18 (0p) ISBN 978-0-374-31248-0
Like a jewel box with hidden drawers and compartments, this finely crafted, multilayered novel holds many secrets. Early on, events unfold at a leisurely pace at Ravensmere, an old English country estate where 17-year-old Clare intends to unwind for a few weeks before entering university. But questions and curiosities begin to accumulate, drawing the reader inexorably into a whirling mix of disparate, even outlandish elements-this is at once a ghost story, a romance and a coming-of-age drama, with psychic phenomena as well as historical and even ecological themes. In Berry's (Easy Connections) skilled hands, however, these motifs fall satisfyingly into place, piece by piece. The villagers seem to have anticipated Clare's arrival, and there is repeated, cryptic mention of the ""Guardians"" of the ""Benison,"" an ancient treasure whose nature-the novel's deepest, most compelling secret-is not revealed until the final chapters. Only then does Clare learn the startling truth about her connection to Ravensmere and her strange, supernatural role in preserving its future. Berry builds a setting and atmosphere richly laden with mystery and suspense, in which the ordinary often masks unexpected interconnections and the extraordinary is natural to the story's wildly imagined terrain. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Prebound-Other - 285 pages - 978-0-606-17204-2
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-380-73228-9
Prebound-Glued - 288 pages - 978-0-613-22975-3
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