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Summary

Penelope Lively has always been a keen gardener. This audiobook is partly a memoir of her own life in gardens: the large garden at home in Cairo where she spent most of her childhood, her grandmother's garden in a sloping Somerset field, then two successive Oxfordshire gardens of her own and the smaller urban garden in the North London home she lives in today. It's also a wise, engaging exploration of gardens in literature, from Paradise Lost to Alice in Wonderland.

©2017 Penelope Lively (P)2017 W.F. Howes Ltd

What listeners say about Life in the Garden

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Garden life for the soul


Fuchsia, anchusa, Jack Manii, choisya, morning glory, lily… If these names conjure up balm-to-your-soul garden imagery, then the splendid 84 year-old Penelope Lively’s Life in the Garden is for you.

Part memoir (the vibrant flowers of her Cairo childhood); part autobiography (her grandmother’s Somerset garden; nurturing past gardens with her husband Jack Lively) meld together with garden history and fashions (Henry Repton, Gertrude Jekyll, U and non-U planting) and with styles of paintings from the 17th century Semper Augustus tulip to Monet and Klee’s gardens. Above all, there is a host of thoughts and quotations from her long life of reading from Eliot’s Burnt Norton to Edith Wharton, from Willa Cather (a particular favourite) and Angus Wilson offering up her philosophy of the life-giving ‘green thoughts’ which infuses gardeners.

She’s also bang up to date with her thoughts on the influence of glossy gardening photography, television make-overs and the lure of garden centres. No longer able to bend, Lively is still looking forward to seeing her hydrangea paniculata flourish. Amongst all the benefits of gardening, she tells us that gardeners live an extra 14 years - (there’s life in the garden for human beings as well as plants and trees) -so she should indeed be rewarded!

This is an elegant book with a lifetime of distilled garden thoughts and experience. It’s one to treasure and I’m buying it – a download is great, but it can’t produce the illustrations.
It is a shame that such a cultured writer should have a narrator of her work who apparently doesn’t know how to pronounce the artist Paul Klee or, even more surprisingly P.G.Wodehouse.

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gardeners stream of consciousness

Great book if you love listening to all things plants. I'm not sure what the story was ? more a waffle on how amazing gardening is and how it has been perceived throughout the centuries.
I liked learning about other garden writers. I will now go and check them out.
it was nice when the author reflected on children's films on the subject like 'The secret garden'. The author jumps from topic to topic but not in a bad way. Maybe we share a similar inner narrative on all things garden's & plants.
Pleasent listen. Great Narrator. As a garden lover I could listen to her waffle all day 😊 @bekindtoyoursoul_plants

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Gardening bliss

Just wonderful. Especially when listened to while weeding, dead-heading or plodding through other repetitive and time consuming garden tasks.

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A must listen. A total joy.

An intimate, articulate paean to a way of living a life through the arch of a garden.
What a remarkable homage by such an insightful human being.
Thank you.
With iPad on hand, I cross referenced images, books, gardens, names.. and adored all the “ name dropping” especially of the plants mentioned themselves. Almost all of them fondly known to me over the years.

I also wondered at the healthy personality of Ms Lively and how she was able to omit all reference to the anguish of leaving a garden behind and choosing to cherish the one you have in the moment.

The voice actor is amongst the best I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. Nary a Latin name mispronounced and kindly accessible throughout.