Like many of its ilk The Savage
Garden combines two mysteries in one, one
ancient and one modern. It's late Spring 1958; Adam
Banting, an intelligent but callow history of art
student, has yet to choose a thesis subject for his
final exam the following year, so is delighted to
take up his professor's suggestion that he spend
part of his summer researching a Renaissance villa
in Tuscany, which can then form the basis of his
thesis. Shortly after, Adam sets off for a summer
that (we know from the prologue) will change him
Mills embroiders themes of passion, survival and divided family loyalties into a plot as deft and as civilized as the setting. The Savage Garden is easily on a par with other recent high brow literary thrillers such as The Historian and The Book of Air and Shadows, and a cut above the likes of The Rule of Four. Long periods of slow intellectual discovery and background setting are countered by some decent action late in the game and the occasional, not too explicit, sexual encounter.
The only significant misstep, from this reviewer's point of view, is the little joke that Mills plays with the reader by opening the first pages of The Savage Garden with an entirely different story to the one that follows. The reader soon discovers that he or she has been reading the opening lines from the novel that Adam's soon to be ex-girlfriend is writing. The only catch is that this reviewer found herself hooked by this lightweight but intriguing tale of inebriated vicars, village fêtes, giant marrows and espionage, and thus found the first few chapters of the main story a little slow-going until the plot built up steam!
This review was originally published in May 2007, and has been updated for the May 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
Discover your next great read here
Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim
Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.
Your guide toexceptional books
BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.