Hilary Kent, a Londoner all his working life, retires to Wiltshire after an estranged cousin unexpectedly leaves him an inhabitable tower surrounded by an overgrown physic garden – and that’s when graduate student Tom Laurence suddenly erupts into his life, convincing him that together they can restore the ancient garden to its former glory. Tom’s cheerful friendship is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hilary and he’s perfectly content with that until, to his astonishment and confusion, it seems that Tom’s affection for him is beginning to grow into something more … something he feels he probably shouldn’t allow
Review: I bought the paperback of this book and took it with me to all my appointments and read it while I was waiting, which took a bit, but honestly, this book deserves the slowapproach. It deserves to be savored and enjoyed, like a good cup of tea. Not rushed through.
Like Butterfly Hunter this is a slow meandering, flowing like a small stream, no big action or wild emotions. Friendship and then love develops between two men who at least at first glance are very different.
Hilary is a very quiet and settled man. He’s retired and lives alone and always has, no close friends or any family, and he’s fine with that. Tom is working on his thesis and with his excitement and dedication to Hilary’s garden and the story of Thaddeus he easily wins Hilary over.
I believe Tom enriched and beautified Hilary’s life as much as Hilary enriched and helped Tom find something he was looking for.
“But that was all right, for he knew that this precious gift of love was such a fragile thing. He must keep it safe for its own sake to allow it to thrive, like an exotic plant in its own little glasshouse – and more importantly than that he must protect Tom. Nothing ignoble must attach itself to this wonderful young man. Nothing must harm him in any way.”
There is over a 40 year age difference, which is a lot, not just in years, but in experience. Tom grew up in a much more accepting and open world than Hilary. And of course our life experiences make us who we are.
I really did love seeing them find something together. Having their own rituals and traditions. Their Thursday night date, their tea time. That’s what makes it real.
“Oh Tom, I’ve never asked for anything more from life than contentment, and for most of my years I’ve had exactly that. I suppose it seemed too much and too late to start asking for happiness.”
This is a story for people who enjoy quiet and understated stories, strong emotions but not yelled out, they are all the more powerful for being whispered.
I had one or two things I was a little uncertain of, but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment.