REVIEW: Up the Garden Path

At the grand old age of 57, I am finally learning to garden and so when I found this little gem in a charity shop a few weeks ago, I couldn’t resist purchasing it and sat in my little summer house to read it so I could get a full immersive experience.

Edited and beautifully illustrated by Laura Stoddart, this is a collection of excerpts, quotes and poems drawn together in three sections: The House, The Garden and Beyond the Garden Wall.

To start with I have to say the illustrations are beautiful. Elongated people with tiny heads, furniture, buildings, flower and fauna all displayed in a lovely muted colour palette. I loved them and probably spent as much time looking at the pictures as I did reading the words.

Although I love novels, I do also enjoy an illustrated book and this is very cute.

The words are taken from a variety of centuries and a variety of sources. William Wordsworth is in here as is Keats and Kipling. There are proverbs from different parts of the world and many anonymous missives.

I like this quote from Sydney Smith (17771-1845), cleric, writer, wit and founder of the Edinburgh Review: “There is no furniture so charming as books, even if you never open them, or read a single word.”

Sounds like my house – although I do open them and read the words, I just don’t open as many as I buy!

There are excerpts from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Charles Dickens’ Sketches by Boz, Gertrude Jekyll’s Wood and Garden and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

One of the things I enjoyed about the collection was that because it is ordered in three themes, you never know what authors are going to pop up on the next page so this little book is a surprise every time you turn the page.

Up the Garden Path is a lovely little thing. It was first published in 1999 and I’m not sure it’s still in print but there are plenty of second hand copies available on eBay or Amazon if you’re interested.

There are others in the series too: Off the Beaten Track, The Sweet Life and All for Love, all anthologies featuring Laura Stoddart’s beautiful illustrations. I know this because I’ve just ordered two of the three for the princely sum of £6.

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