A host of vividly caught characters are here: Mirabel's extrovert, free-spirited mother Phyllis, Aylmer Vallance, who with extraordinary love letters would rescue her mother from a twilight life, Stella Bowen, Phyllis's lifelong friend and fellow student under Ezra Pound, their introduction to the London literati, notably Ford Madox Ford. Throughout Mirabel's childhood, it was Stella who would be the one fast colour amid her mercurial mother's love affairs. And turning closer to the present - to new friendships, the paring away of previous assumptions and conventions and the serendipities of chance acquaintance - we encounter Michael, Mirabel's late husband, who's barbaric public-school childhood contrasted so dramatically with Mirabel's own, affectionate and carefree, whose repressed father so adored roses, their childhood meeting, their delight in their children and beloved Shropshire garden, a character in its own right, full of the joy of the unexpected. Celebrated author of A Gentle Plea for Chaos, Mirabel Osler's meditation on the profound pleasures of writing, gardens, travel and food is both graceful and deeply affecting.
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