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Summary

A love story about grief, OCD, and dirt

Tilly Silverberg is rebuilding her life with her young son, Isaac, one potted-up plant at a time. Since her husband’s death, gardening has become her livelihood and her salvation. Hiding out in the North Carolina forest, she wants only to be left alone with Isaac and her greenhouse. 

New to the area, successful software developer James Nealy needs a garden. On a solitary mission to reclaim his life from irrational obsessions and relentless compulsions, he has a plan: to conquer his greatest fear. Dirt. One glimpse - or two - of Tilly’s garden, and he knows she holds the key. But when he asks her to take him on as a client, she refuses. 

After a family emergency pulls Tilly and Isaac back to her native England, she’s quietly happy, because nothing has changed in her childhood village. Or has it? Her first love is unexpectedly single, her mother is scheming, and her best friend is keeping secrets. Then James appears on her doorstep. 

Tenuous at first, but gradually taking root, James and Tilly forge an unlikely bond. As they work together to rescue a garden choked by neglect, they unearth each other’s secrets, each other’s fears, each other’s hopes - and maybe, a shared second chance.  

©2012 Barbara Claypole White (P)2019 Spoken Realms

What listeners say about The Unfinished Garden

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Beautifully written and performed

This is a love story with an usual twist. Heartbreaking in places and beautifully performed by Ana Clements and Paul Heitsch, sometimes speaking in each other’s voices. No mean feat given one is English and the other American. Their performances were beautifully nuanced to match the story and the combination made me want to keep listening even when I had to stop. Highly recommended.

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Beautiful

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful is what I think of this book/story. Having turned into an audio book junkie recently, I jumped at the chance to listen and review this one. With the cover totally selling it to me! Its absolutely gorgeous, don’t you think?! Well so is the story.

With 12 hour plus listening time…dont let that put you off. Once I started this and got sucked into Tilly’s world I honestly couldn’t stop listening to it and ended up finishing it in a couple of days. Trust me that’s quick it normally takes me a week to listen to an audio.

I love how its narrated by a man and woman has the story alternates between Tilly and James. These guys are amazing and so are the friendships in this story. The whole time I felt myself willing Tilly along.

The whole backdrop of the story is Tilly’s OCD with gardening. This is the part would I could smell the flowers and easily sit in her garden for hours. It took me back to my childhood with my Nan and her gardening.

This is one of those stories that will make you smile and pull at your heartstrings if your a fan of Jodi Picoult then you will love this. The Unfinished Garden is one hell of a moving story. Which I highly recommend.

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  • Catherine
  • 15-05-21

Amazing.

Well written, fully developed characters with in a story unlike anything I have ever heard before. The closest comparison I can think of would be “The Language of Flowers.”

Spending time with the character of James was very instructive. I realized that my assumptions/preconceptions of OCD were framed to allow me to remain in my comfort zone. Looking at the world through James’ eyes has led me to challenge the notion that it is always necessary that I remain comfortable.

Good book. Really good book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • TreasureHunter
  • 02-11-21

Outstanding!

Completely enjoyable story and narration! Addressed many worthy topics. Wonderful settings, characters and plot development.

3 people found this helpful

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  • James and Shelly
  • 29-08-21

Pretty cute, pretty depressing story

I learned a lot about OCD, so that was cool. I also remember how when someone dies, they’re all of a sudden put on a pedestal- they are remembered for all the wonderful and fun things they did and their character flaws are minimized or forgotten. Makes it pretty hard for anyone else to come in and fill the void in the hearts that the dead left empty.
The way the narrators made James sound was completely off… the woman made him sound mentally slow, but the man made him sound like he was just the opposite. Almost like they were 2 completely different people. I much preferred the male narrator’s interpretation, since that’s how the OCD and his personality seemed to make him think- fast, organized, direct, determined.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Cassy Workman
  • 22-06-21

Ok story line, differently twist but profanity unnecessary

Interesting twist of personalities but average story and would have been much better without profanity, this detracts from the writers professionalism and character.

Gave it a 3 but 2.5 with cussing. Why is that necessary? It’s NOT! Can

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  • AWS
  • 02-09-19

A decent read

Enough to keep me going for the finish, but it left me feeling ready to leave it behind. It does have the makings of a decent YA read, but not quite mature enough for other populations. The topics that were covered (grief, mental health, self acceptance, acceptance, a bit of travel) should have been enough to leave the reader in deep thought. But, nope. Kind of glad it's over.

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  • PowderRiverRose
  • 09-05-21

Love this

Excellent narration. A modern day story of love and devastating health struggles laid bare but with the sound and feel of classic English literature. Just like many of those classics there are moments that drag or twist one in knots while you think of smacking the characters upside the head however keep listening and you will be happy you did. Enjoy

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  • mjkwpb
  • 13-04-22

Good but weird

interesting storyline, good not great, but worth the time. Ending seemed a little abrupt. Insight into OCD.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Josie James
  • 23-03-22

Loved it

I almost never give five stars but I loved this. Wish there was a sequel. It might have been dragged out just a bit but not enough for me to lose interest or glaze over. I just tend to want to rush the happy ending lol. I like less filler. But I really really liked this story. Will look for more from the author/narrator.

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  • Sara Eidenbach
  • 05-01-22

Wow! Powerful, endearing and empathetic.

A keeper of a story. Educational and emotional. As we emerge in our lives, daily life events carve out niches that begin to shape our behavior and thoughts. My family has also been genetically affected with mental disorders which have added stress and confusion for all. Barbara Claypole White’s amazing sensitivity and beautiful wordcraft is an inspiration as well as an education and guidance through our amazing thought and emotional process.

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  • SAdamucci
  • 10-11-21

Sappy Romance

I found the narrators unbearable at times. The story was dated and sappy towards the end. it ended up being a canned romance- not very imaginative.

1 person found this helpful