Book Diary: The Jewel Garden (Sarah and Monty Don)

Yet another Amnesty find.  This one fell straight into my hands when I was working on the till and someone dropped in a donation.  I wouldn’t normally have looked at it twice, but the subtitle, ‘A Story of Despair and Redemption’ caught my interest and led me to read the blurb, where I learnt that Monty and Sarah Don had owned a business that went bust in the 1980s.  It also mentioned Monty’s battles with depression, which ignited a memory somewhere of an article I had read about him, where he had said that gardening had saved his life and helped him through the darkest times of his mental illness.  So, I decided to take it home and give it a go.

THE JEWEL GARDEN, Sarah and Monty Don

(finished reading on 05/10/2008)

When I sat down to read this I remembered that I had been in the same lecture as Monty Don at the first Cheltenham Literature Festival I attended, the lecture was about philosophy and whether it could answer any of life’s questions.  He came in late, sat in front of me and asked a question along the lines of  ‘is a half eaten loaf better than no loaf at all’, or a similar glass half full versus glass half empty type question.

The book is divided equally between Sarah and Monty and they both tell their story from their own perspective.  Monty’s depression, their anguish at the failure of their business, these themes appealed to me.  However, a lot (okay, all!) of the gardening stuff went over my head , but both author’s passion for it came across so strongly, that it was really infectious and I very much got the feeling that it was their salvation.

I think the most wonderful thing about the book though, by far, was their total honestly about their troubles, their naivety and the illnesses they endured.  ‘Told with compelling honesty’ so says the blurb and that’s it in a nutshell and it’s that which kept me turning the pages and wishing them well.


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