Review

My Garden (Book)

by Jamaica Kincaid

Read an Excerpt



Jamaica Kincaid is a gardener after my own heart --- with a healthy
respect for the ordered and manipulated gardens of the British
Empire, she lets her gardens grow wildly. She is obsessed with the
catalogues that entice her with their perfection and bounty (who
isn't!), even if the $200 worth of fruit trees she buys wither and
die or produce a completely substandard product. In MY GARDEN
(BOOK), the writer gives us a glimpse into her own soul by
committing to paper the acts of kindness and random horror that she
encounters in her own gardens.

The best writing, I have decided, comes from writers who leave a
smidgen of soul behind on the pages of their every volume. Kincaid,
whose fiction is far-flung, is a fine and remarkably honest
essayist --- these stories of her own adventures in the green trade
are funny, educational, even shocking (her ability to remark with
spitfired distaste about neighbors or horticulturists she dislikes
is both uncanny and uncouth). MY GARDEN (BOOK) is full of her love
for her husband, her children, her Vermont town, the grass that
grows in unexpected places, the blooms she tends with utmost
care.

In writing about winter, she blasts it for its lack of color in the
garden. Although she knows that there are ways to make a winter
garden appealing, she will have none of it, and we are the better
for it. Kincaid's work here is pointed and eminently readable ---
you don't want to put it down. Reading this book was like looking
forward to a weekly coffee clache with my dearest and funniest
friend --- you knew that each page turned would bring another
smile, another gasp, something out of the ordinary. MY GARDEN
(BOOK) is full of anecdotes that even the most novice gardener will
appreciate --- and those who have no use for the garden will marvel
at her thirst for knowledge and the sheer audacity of her
words.

Jamaica Kincaid's book may have been designed to look like a
child's journal --- each page is decorated with borders of flowers,
and there are gentle line drawings to illustrate some of the more
descriptive passages --- but it is full of an adult's acute and
direct observations about a struggle of natural proportions through
the eyes of a born writer and a hopeful gardener.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011

My Garden (Book)
by Jamaica Kincaid

  • Publication Date: May 15, 2001
  • Genres: Essays
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN-10: 0374527768
  • ISBN-13: 9780374527761