not a book review

This is not a book review of Mark Haddon’s latest novel A Spot of Bother. The book is not about gardening, so has no place in a gardening blog. Except for two brief paragraphs.

In introducing two of his characters, Haddon describes them with reference to their gardens. And since I seem to have developed a fascination with garden references in literature … here goes …

Introducing Jamie, son of George (the central character who is having a rather major spot of bother).

“The garden was looking great. No cat shit for starters. Maybe the lion dung pellets were working. It’d rained on the way home so the big pebbles were clean and dark and shiny. The chunky railway sleepers round the raised beds. Forsythia, bay, hosta. God knows why people planted grass. Wasn’t the point of having a garden to sit in it and do nothing?”

Compare this with the introduction of David. (Jean, George’s wife is having an affair with David).

“She gazed onto the oval lawn. Three shrubs in big stone pots on one side. Three on the other. A folding wooden lounger.”

The theme of this darkly funny book can be seen as about loss of control, or how easily our lives can unravel. Mark Haddon really understands how our gardens define us as we define them.


  1. Well, any garden without cat droppings is looking great to me! If our neighbor's cat graces us with any of her free fertilizer, my kids seem magnetically drawn to it. Then I clean up the mess they track inside . . .
    Have a good one! VW


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