My book review of 'The Walled Garden' by Sarah Hardy

by Sarah Hardy
The Walled Garden
by Sarah Hardy

This is a warm, tender and thoughtful love story set just after the second world war, when Stephen, heir to the crumbling Oakbourne Hall in Suffolk, returns home a stranger, bitter and angry, tormented by all that he has seen and done, and the secrets he holds. His wife, Alice, lonely and afraid of the man she no longer knows, tries to pick up the pieces of her marriage and of the Hall. She begins with the walled garden.

There's a calm gentleness about the writing that I found both soothing and compelling. The characters are restrained and self-contained and the writing reminds me of Rosamond Lehmann or Dodie Smith's 'I Capture the Castle'. Although the characters are hugely traumatised by their experiences of the war and the shattering of lives and livelihoods, there is an abiding sense of the restoration of hope, order and community. 

The author lives locally and you can read my interview with her in 'Suffolk' magazine here, where Sarah reveals something of the inspiration behind the book in the grounds of Sudbourne Park, just outside Orford.

Date of this review: November 2022
Book publication date: 16th March 2023