Does a book that’s been recommended to you ever make you change your mind about someone? Polly, who you will have possibly read about and will be sure to read more about in the future, told me that I simply must read this book, she had really enjoyed it and was raving about it. I always respond well to passionate ravings about a book as it is something that I quite often do myself, and anyone who is passionate about a book and tells me I must read it normally gets my vote and read of said novel. Polly’s been right about many a book and indeed has bought me many a book, however having bought The Savage Garden by Mark Mills and having heard so much from Polly about how fabulous it was it had high expectations to meet. Let me also add that Polly is very well read and we generally like similar books. It has also been a Richard & Judy Summer Read, sadly I am someone who currently thinks that Amanda Ross’s choices of books are generally good ones too, another person who’s job I would kill for.
Anyway only thirty pages in I was thinking ‘am I reading the same book?’…I was. Set in post war Tuscany behind a grand villa lies and enchanting and mystical garden. A garden that in fact holds secrets, dark secrets with clues all around that someone needs to decipher. That person turns out to be Adam Strickland, a young scholar who visits the town and falls in love with the garden, its house and its family the Docci’s. The family themselves seem to have their own dark secrets and skeletons, could the garden and the house hold mysteries of murder, love and betrayal. Well I am not going to give that away, all I will say is by page 100 I couldn’t care less but felt obligated to finish the novel as I had promised Polly.
Mills is an author whom, for me personally, over describes everything. He doesn’t just describe the house exterior, he describes every window, every column almost every ivy leaf that grows up the side. Boring. As a reader yes I want hints as to what things look like, what characters sound like etc, I don’t need to be told intricate details that delay the story but also force my brain to depict things to the nth degree, this is an author who seriously wants control of what his reader is taking in and all power to him, it just doesn’t work for me. I have heard some of my favourite authors say ‘once a book is written it’s the readers, they imagine the characters, their voices and actions, its no longer mine though I have the story and characters in my head, that’s the point though you write something people respond to and take into their own brains and hopefully hearts’ well something along those lines anyways.
I have to say I will not be recommending this to anyone. In fact I dont think I will be reading another Mark Mills, I could eat my own words, it would have to take something seriously amazing for me to change my mind after reading this. Has it changed my opinion of Polly? No, as if, not after 22 years of friendship, I may be more wary of her choices from now on after all she recommended London Fields, my most hated book of all time, but she has also recommended me some gems. I’ll make sure I blog her next recommendation.