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15 Literary Gardens to Explore

Amy Hendricks is a children's marketing coordinator at Simon and Schuster. She is a friend to animals, and a lover of old books, pancakes, and being in or near water.

In literature, there’s something both magical and symbolic about gardens. They can be unkempt and wild, harboring secrets and failures, or brimming with well-maintained life, the beauty of the plants as radiant as the hearts of their caretakers. We’ve collected a colorful and varied bouquet of fifteen books set amidst gardens both real and imagined.


The Forgotten Garden
by Kate Morton
Kate Morton’s cross-generational story is a twisting journey to find the secrets behind the walls of a garden at the edges of a once-great estate. Each new discovery is a delightful surprise in a touching and enchanting novel.
The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The House at Riverton, a novel that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through generations and across continents as two women try to uncover their family’s secret past.A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt
Though the garden in this story is referring to a famous Southern cemetery, there is no lack of mystique in this true tale of the murder of a local male prostitute in the historic city of Savannah.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
John Berendt

Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the early morning hours of May 2, 1981. For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this beautiful and isolated remnant of the Old South. John Berendt’s sharply observed and suspenseful account of this landmark murder case is a sublime and seductive reading experience.

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Winter Garden
by Kristin Hannah

The bond between a mother and her daughters is put on an emotional display in this enduring novel. Two sisters come together at the request of their dying father to hear their distant mother's whole story, and they learn the haunting truth of her life.

Winter Garden
Kristin Hannah

The bond between a mother and her daughters is put on an emotional display in this enduring novel. Two sisters come together at the request of their dying father to hear their distant mother's whole story, and they learn the haunting truth of her life.

MENTIONED IN:

15 Literary Gardens to Explore

By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

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In the Garden of Beasts
by Erik Larson

Berlin in 1933 captivates a young woman whose father is America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. As Martha gets swept up in the parties and society lifestyle, Hitler’s reign is starting to expand its reach, culminating in a violent reveal of his true nature.

In the Garden of Beasts
Erik Larson

Berlin in 1933 captivates a young woman whose father is America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. As Martha gets swept up in the parties and society lifestyle, Hitler’s reign is starting to expand its reach, culminating in a violent reveal of his true nature.

MENTIONED IN:

15 Literary Gardens to Explore

By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

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The Garden of Evening Mists
by Tan Twan Eng

For Yun Ling Teoh, gardening is a way to rediscover her sense of self and try to atone for the survivor’s guilt she feels after losing her sister during their time in a Japanese internment camp. Brimming with intrigue, Tan Twan Eng’s second novel delves into the history, cultures, and injustices of World War II, and how life goes on for some in the aftermath.

The Garden of Evening Mists
Tan Twan Eng

For Yun Ling Teoh, gardening is a way to rediscover her sense of self and try to atone for the survivor’s guilt she feels after losing her sister during their time in a Japanese internment camp. Brimming with intrigue, Tan Twan Eng’s second novel delves into the history, cultures, and injustices of World War II, and how life goes on for some in the aftermath.

MENTIONED IN:

15 Literary Gardens to Explore

By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

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The Bone Garden
by Tess Gerritsen

Unknown bones, untold stories, and unsolved crimes from the distant past cast ominous shadows in this suspenseful thriller. From a 1830s medical student pilfering graves to harvest the dead for sale, to the present-day discovery of a human skull in a rural Massachusetts garden; a dark mystery is traced through centuries and culminates in an ingenious and shocking finale.

The Bone Garden
Tess Gerritsen

Unknown bones, untold stories, and unsolved crimes from the distant past cast ominous shadows in this suspenseful thriller. From a 1830s medical student pilfering graves to harvest the dead for sale, to the present-day discovery of a human skull in a rural Massachusetts garden; a dark mystery is traced through centuries and culminates in an ingenious and shocking finale.

MENTIONED IN:

15 Literary Gardens to Explore

By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

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The Cement Garden
by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan’s first novel of psychological suspense details what happens to four siblings who are left alone after both their parents die. With the absence of adults and structure, the children attempt to govern themselves, but their path of self-preservation is as complex and wrought as the garden their father obsessively built.

The Cement Garden
Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan’s first novel of psychological suspense details what happens to four siblings who are left alone after both their parents die. With the absence of adults and structure, the children attempt to govern themselves, but their path of self-preservation is as complex and wrought as the garden their father obsessively built.

MENTIONED IN:

15 Literary Gardens to Explore

By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

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The Rose Garden
by Susanna Kearsley

A historically well-tended garden of roses acts as an anchor for time-traveling heroine Eva Ward, who has returned home to Cornwall to spread the ashes of her recently deceased sister. While there, she finds she can easily slip into the estate’s past, where she has a hard time deciding which century she would like to live in.

The Rose Garden
Susanna Kearsley

A historically well-tended garden of roses acts as an anchor for time-traveling heroine Eva Ward, who has returned home to Cornwall to spread the ashes of her recently deceased sister. While there, she finds she can easily slip into the estate’s past, where she has a hard time deciding which century she would like to live in.

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The Garden of Eden
by Ernest Hemingway
In Hemingway’s posthumously published novel, a couple on their honeymoon falls in love with the same woman. What results is a rich cast of characters challenging the conventional roles of Adam and Eve in a seemingly perfect paradise on the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s.
The Garden of Eden
Ernest Hemingway

This sensational bestseller is the last uncompleted novel of Ernest Hemingway. Set on the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s, it’s the story of a young American writer, his glamorous wife, and the dangerous, erotic game they play when they fall in love with the same woman.

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Garden Spells
by Sarah Addison Allen

Generations of women in the Waverley family have been responsible for an enchanted garden behind their North Carolina home. It's now Claire’s turn to tend to the magical fruits and flowers that enhance the lives of all around her. But upon the return of her sister, Sydney, with a young daughter in tow, Claire must reevaluate her powers and what she wants from her life.

Garden Spells
Sarah Addison Allen

Generations of women in the Waverley family have been responsible for an enchanted garden behind their North Carolina home. It's now Claire’s turn to tend to the magical fruits and flowers that enhance the lives of all around her. But upon the return of her sister, Sydney, with a young daughter in tow, Claire must reevaluate her powers and what she wants from her life.

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By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

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The Garden of Letters
by Alyson Richman

This clever and sweet World War II novel set in Italy follows a young cellist who worked as a spy for the Resistance movement. When she flees to Portofino, she is taken in by a doctor reeling from the loss of his family. Their stories are a beautiful portrayal of the emotion, heroism, and romance that flourish despite the consequences of war.

The Garden of Letters
Alyson Richman

This clever and sweet World War II novel set in Italy follows a young cellist who worked as a spy for the Resistance movement. When she flees to Portofino, she is taken in by a doctor reeling from the loss of his family. Their stories are a beautiful portrayal of the emotion, heroism, and romance that flourish despite the consequences of war.

MENTIONED IN:

15 Literary Gardens to Explore

By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

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The Lavender Garden
by Lucinda Riley

An inherited chateau with vineyards and intrigue abound takes center stage in this captivating novel chronicling a woman’s attempts to understand the deeply embedded history of her old estate. Jumping from World War II to present day in the south of France, the secrets of the old house help bring a family’s history to light.

The Lavender Garden
Lucinda Riley

An inherited chateau with vineyards and intrigue abound takes center stage in this captivating novel chronicling a woman’s attempts to understand the deeply embedded history of her old estate. Jumping from World War II to present day in the south of France, the secrets of the old house help bring a family’s history to light.

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The Red Garden
by Alice Hoffman
A mysterious garden where only red plants grow is the centerpiece of this sweeping novel, which explores more than three hundred years in a small Massachusetts town. Weaving magic and history, Alice Hoffman’s spellbinding look at small town America is not to be missed.
The Red Garden
Alice Hoffman

In exquisite prose, Alice Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting us with some three hundred years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty, and redemption in a web of tales where characters’ lives are intertwined by fate and by their own actions.

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The Garden of Burning Sand
by Corban Addison

A change of scenery from most other books on this list, Corban Addison’s thrilling novel takes place throughout Africa. An American lawyer working to end child sexual assault in Zambia embarks on a tense journey to solve the case of a victim whose identity remains a mystery. Aided by a Zambian police officer, her investigation culminates in a striking realization.

The Garden of Burning Sand
Corban Addison

A change of scenery from most other books on this list, Corban Addison’s thrilling novel takes place throughout Africa. An American lawyer working to end child sexual assault in Zambia embarks on a tense journey to solve the case of a victim whose identity remains a mystery. Aided by a Zambian police officer, her investigation culminates in a striking realization.

MENTIONED IN:

15 Literary Gardens to Explore

By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

Close

The Garden of Last Days
by Andre Dubus III

A young mother’s decision to bring her child to the strip club where she works is the catalyst for a series of sharp turns and gripping intrigue. The supporting characters in this thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat and anxiously turning pages until the last reveal.

The Garden of Last Days
Andre Dubus III

A young mother’s decision to bring her child to the strip club where she works is the catalyst for a series of sharp turns and gripping intrigue. The supporting characters in this thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat and anxiously turning pages until the last reveal.

MENTIONED IN:

15 Literary Gardens to Explore

By Amy Hendricks | May 31, 2016

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