Title: The Child Garden
Author: Catriona McPherson
Publisher: Constable (an imprint of Little Brown Group)
Date of Publication: 2015
Number of Pages: 292
Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Eden was its name. “An alternative school for happy children.” But it closed in disgrace after a student’s suicide. Now it’s a care home, its grounds neglected and overgrown. Gloria Harkness is its only neighbor, staying close to her son who lives there in the home, lighting up her life and breaking her heart each day.
When a childhood friend turns up at her door, Gloria doesn’t hesitate before asking him in. He claims a girl from Eden is stalking him and has goaded him into meeting her at the site of the suicide. Only then, the dead begin to speak—it was murder, they say.
Gloria is in over her head before she can help it. Her loneliness, her loyalty, and her all-consuming love for her son lead her into the heart of a dark secret that threatens everything she lives for.
Review: Knickerbocker Gloria, as she was known to her primary school friends is a strange woman but also oddly familiar. I understood her joy at living alone in an old and crumbling house; I understood why she lived with two cats and an elderly dog; I understood her loyalty to her son. I might not have a son but if you’ve got family you love, you know what I’m saying.
Gloria is also very straightlaced and predictable. Perhaps this is why she wanted some adventure. She certainly got it.
The Child Garden is, at moments, completely believable and at others, a real stretch. The fine line McPherson walks is very well managed and while there are characters and scenarios that shouldn’t work, there isn’t a moment where you’re jolted from the narrative wondering what the hell just happened.
This is my second novel by McPherson and it won’t be my last. There’s something about her story telling that just connects with me. The stories haven’t been hard work to follow or difficult to read but its unrelenting and you never really get a chance to settle into one narrative idea. The hard thing for me now Will be deciding which book to find next. I guess I’ll let just have to see what the library has.