The Memory Garden

Mary Rickert
The Memory Garden Cover

The Memory Garden


This was a really pleasant read, which felt quite fulfilling. I felt that spending a lazy, summer's afternoon reading in a nice garden, or enjoying a really satisfying meal, eaten slowly. Which is funny because this is a book where the senses are fully exploited taking in the sights, sounds and smells of eating with friends and the sight and smells of a wild garden. However, to stretch the analogy further, lying around in a field all day may be quite pleasant and relaxing but there isn't much 'depth' to it and that's kind of how I feel about this one. It was okay, it was fun, I enjoyed it but I don't think anything in particular has been explored in any death.

I did quite like the 'magic on the fringes' where, at least in some places it is for the reader to determine whether 'magic' is used. I did like the evocation of what I call traditional midwifery, when it was a role fulfilled by local women rather than the medical profession, including when a local herbalist could help another woman when she needed support with not having a child (indeed, I suspect in any historical witchcraft 'purges' it was more about powerful and knowledgeable women being crushed by a patriarchal, religious society rather than rooting out 'evil witchcraft').

I quite liked the characters, especially the elderly ladies (who may or may not be witches). I liked the exploration of the elements of their friendships and the teases about the nature of their relationships. The younger characters I related to less. The central character Bay seemed a 'young' 15 and I didn't really see her as a young woman on the cusp of adulthood. Most of the younger characters seemed really incidental and added nothing to the book.

I also enjoyed the unravelling of the deeper plot although I felt it was telegraphed significantly. The end was quite rewarding and tugged at my sentimentality strings.

Enjoyed it, but I doubt it will leave a lasting impression on me.