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Backyard: Book summary and reviews of Backyard by Norman Draper

Backyard

by Norman Draper

Backyard by Norman Draper X
Backyard by Norman Draper
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  • Published Nov 2014
    320 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

Backyard peels back the placid, Miracle-Gro-soaked sod of gardening to reveal a culture of yucca fetishes, monarda mutilations, and herbivore-induced hissy fits. In the shocking world of Backyard, garden club backstabbers use dull gardening trowels, and the little old lady with loppers could be...an iris murderer!

As Backyard unfolds, the news leaks out that Burdick's PlantWorld is sponsoring a garden contest the likes of which the unassuming suburb of Livia has never seen. It quickly attracts the attention of Livia's middle-aged gardening reprobates. They include a cowled spy, a witch who channels the spirit power of millions of dead flower souls, and a saboteur who'll unleash a Mongol horde of half-starved rabbits on any garden if the price is right. Most threatening is resident gardening psychopath Dr. Phyllis Sproot. She'll stop at nothing to maintain her dominance as Livia's most eminent gardener.

Against these forbidding forces stands a determined couple - George and Nan Fremont. They vow in their quest for the first-place prize to turn their backyard into a suburban paradise of bursting summer blooms and trilling songbirds while blissfully sipping their favorite merlot and brandishing a butcher knife and genuine "Smokestack" Gaines baseball bat.

A sequel to Backyard is planned for October 2015.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Draper's savory satire of such an unlikely source of obsession and greed demonstrates a splendid affinity for Mother Nature and a sardonic appraisal of human nature." - Booklist

"A light tale of suburban warfare waged by the gardening elite." - Kirkus

"Readers looking for a quick, witty read will enjoy the thorns in this prickly arrangement. " - Publishers Weekly

"Draper has bottled the spirits of competitive gardeners, added sugar and fizz and let them go, leaving the reader with many hilarious madcap adventures." - Suzy Bales, award-winning author of Suzy Bales' Down-to-Earth Gardener and Gardener Bouquets and Beyond

"Fast-paced, fun and full of flowers. You'll have a mental list of a dozen gardening friends you know will want to read this book before you're even done with the first chapter." - Amanda Thomsen, author of Kiss My Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You, and popular gardening blogger and speaker.

This information about Backyard was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Janet W. (Davis, CA)

The gardening world's 'Best of Show'
This was a delight to read. One of my favorite movies of all time is 'Best of Show' which satirizes the dog show world and this book is the 'Best of Show' for the gardening world. If anyone doubts this, they haven't known obsessive gardeners. I have. I know 'Dr. Sproot' very well!

I would recommend this book to anyone with a sense of humor, gardening interests, friends who are gardeners, or who just want a good chuckle. Mr. Draper has definitely known - or written about - gardeners in his time as a reporter. I look forward to future books of his.

Charlene M. (Murrells Inlet, SC)

Backyard
Dr. Phil Sproot, Marta Poppendauber, Jasper Burdick – owner of Burdick's Plant Word Emporium – are a few of the creative characters in Norman Draper's novel Backyard. Any garden enthusiasts and future gardeners would love the plot of the book with sprinkles of witchcraft, spells, maybe a curse or two, and everyone's question why is newcomers Nan and George Fremont's garden the envy of the town. Make sure you have a plant book handy to reference the flowers, shrubs, and trees that Mr. Draper edifies.

Barbara G. (Lisle, IL)

Skullduggery in the Garden
If you've ever been a gardener, you'll enjoy this light-hearted romp through suburban Livia's first ever gardening competition, along the lines of the dog show exposé Best in Show. Beautifully detailed yards and planting descriptions fill the pages. Gardening contestants are also described in detail: erstwhile gardening know-it-all, Dr. Phyllis Sproot, who'll stop at nothing to ensure her coreopsis-salvia-hollyhock blend will take first prize. Her acolyte and drudge, Marta Poppendauber, first admired Sproot for her gardening expertise, but is lured by her mentor into nefarious garden espionage and attempted destruction of the sure winning garden. Amateurs Nan and George Fremont enjoy relaxing and surveying their garden work from their patio with the help of their favorite Merlot or the occasional gin and tonic. There's even a self-taught witch hired by Sproot. All the goings on rise to a head during a fearsome thunder storm with straight-line winds just before the final judging. Even the local police are pulled into the action.

Laura Gail W. (Kapaa, HI)

homespun
I love this type of homespun yarn! reminiscent of the Mitford Series with its zany cast of characters. I always looked forward to picking up the book to stay " in touch" with what's going on... I would read any other books by Norman Draper

Sue Z. (Cornelius, NC)

Backyard by Norman Draper
One does not have to be a gardener to thoroughly enjoy "Backyard" although it may add a tiny extra dimension. The characters in this book are all slightly mad and manage to get themselves into crazy situations which are laugh-out-loud funny. They will stop at nothing to try to win a gardening contest and the results are nothing short of hilarious There is a certain element to each of the characters that makes the reader think, just for a fleeting moment, now where do I know that person from? A funny funny book

Shirley D. (Amherst, MA)

BACKYARD by Norman Draper
Flower Gardeners, this book is for you! Those of you who have not only nodding acquaintance but probably speaking acquaintance as well with all the individual flower "characters" present in these pages will be delighted. There is a plot revolving around a gardening contest and the neighborhood psychopath who is determined to maintain her esteemed position at all costs. The rather weak plot is vastly overshadowed by the beauty of the author's word pictures. A fun read for all who love flowers, even when one doesn't know them by name.

...13 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Norman Draper

Norman Draper spent 35 years as a newspaper reporter in Minneapolis; Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Jackson, Mississippi before leaving journalism in 2011.

An avid gardener in thought, if not in deed, he is always up to the task of uncorking a bottle of Sagelands 2007 Merlot once Jennifer's hard day's work in the garden is done. Backyard is his first novel. Visit him at normandraper.com

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