The Other Garden

Francis Wyndham, Author Moyer Bell $12.95 (106p) ISBN 978-0-918825-78-0
Winner of England's Whitbread Prize for best first novel of 1987, this clear, spare volume brings us, at the outbreak of World War II, into the lives of the teenage narrator and Kay, his 30-ish friend of offhand behavior, laconic speech and deliberately shabby clothes. Kay, like the ``other garden'' near the narrator's house, is an attractive combination of the cosy and the strange. In this small English village, she and the narrator are passive rebels against conformity. We follow their intertwined stories throughout the war: Kay works in a local canteen and has a brief, devastating affair with an American G.I.; the narrator recuperates from a broken ankle after only three months as an army private; a homosexual Oxford friend goes off to a sanitorium to recover from TB (soon to be joined there by Kay, also suffering from the disease). For reasons never made entirely clear, Kay's parents, with whom she lives, reject and scorn her, until she is forcedbecause she adopts a dog who becomes the center of her lifeto move away to a difficult existence in blitz-beleagured London. Wyndham (Mrs. Henderson; Letters of Jean Rhys) uses quiet, evocative prose to render a poignant story. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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