Barbara Claypole White gives us a moving story about the challenges of OCD and grief combined with the power of the human spirit to find love in the most unlikely of places. This story is extremely well written and powerful. We see the characters for who they are faults and all and love them for it.
Tilly Silverberg is widow living in North Carolina where she has a landscape business. Tilly loves being in her garden and planting the flowers and plants that thrive there. She also enjoys taking care of her young son and watching him grow as well. She is still struggling with the loss of her husband even though he has been gone for three years. When she meets James, Tilly isn’t sure what to think and then a crisis calls her home to England.
James Nealy suffers from OCD. He is trying to conquer his symptoms and to lead as “normal” a life as possible. James believes that creating a garden at his home in North Carolina will be the perfect way to gain control of his fear of dirt and germs. He just needs to convince Tilly to help him. When she refuses him and then leaves for England, James is compelled to follow her.
I enjoyed this story very much. James is a person struggling with a horrible condition that can be debilitating. He is doing what he can to make his life as “normal” as possible, but his obsessions and anxiety often get the better of him. I admire him for trying to do what he can to face his fears. I appreciate the real-life experience that Barbara Claypole White can bring to this story which makes James all the more real and compelling. We can see that OCD is a condition and does not define all that a person is or can be.
Tilly has her own anxieties to contend with. The process of grieving after losing a spouse is poignantly depicted in this novel. We can feel Tilly’s pain and the struggle that she has with her guilt over her husband’s death. It is not an easy process and cannot be completed overnight. Barbara Claypole White doesn’t allow Tilly to forget her husband or to fall head over heels in love with James quickly. She allows Tilly to take her time and to find a way that works for her.
I also really enjoyed the amount of gardening information and plant knowledge that I gained by reading this book. Who knew there were so many interesting things to find in a garden? I feel like I better understand what is and what could be growing in my own backyard.