This one was harder than I though it would be. I ended up just going to my local library website and performing a search with the keyword THE thinking it would bring int he most hits and restricting the search to those published this year. Then I looked through the results for something that sounded interesting and with multiple copies available.
A book published in 2017: The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace
Lives merge, expand and contract when a young girl shows up in a small sea side New England town with an infant in her arms watching the man who brought her drive away to never return. Her own past is littered with heart break and enduring and has left her standing by the side of the road fearful of her present.
Mabel, who owns the rental cottages where she is dropped at, takes her in and gives her a home until they close down for the winter season. Mabel is grieving the loss of her husband by staunchly refusing to let go of his memory and effects and not letting anyone new in. Once the cottages are closed, she transfer the girl and her baby to her friend Iris, a hermit who enclosed herself into a secret garden at the passing of her own husband, although this was done out of hate and not love.
Their lives intersect with others as June and Luke settle into their new life helping Iris as best they can to take care of the grounds and then herself as she ages quicker than expected with a medical condition she won’t admit to having.
The book is a slice of life style novel that follows groups of people who are brought together and learn to heal from past scars through the arrival of June. Each chapter focuses on a different character although it is written in the third person throughout. This gives the reader a unique perspective of the same events through the lens of each character.
The writing style is easy to follow and modern day although quite a few run on sentences continued for an entire paragraph. The characters were what I consider ultra realistic: meaning they could exist and had all facets of real people but their stories were inflated and the arc of their eventual emotion recovery too swift and all inclusive.
I found the themes of trust and love to be intriguing and how the author showed the response to loss in such extremes as Mabel wearing her husband’s shoes every night to feel the imprint of his feet versus Iris who shut herself in and disowned the world. Both women locked themselves in their grief, not allowing life to move on but each did it in their own way. Each found freedom in the end, but this also differed for each.
Overall the themes are sad: loss, loneliness, abandonment, unrequited love. The story arc is beautifully written though and I found myself wishing for more pages at the end with so many open ended questions that I will never find an answer to.