Connie A Thompson

Book Review: The Unfinished Garden

TUGThe Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White is a love story about damaged people. Tilly Silverberg is a widow with a young son. James Nealy is a retired professional with OCD. His illness is to thank for his retirement – not because he was having difficulties functioning, but because he’s made enough money to retire thanks to long hours and his extreme attention to detail. James has a new obsession, he must have a garden, but not just any garden – he falls in love with Tilly’s garden.

Tilly is an accomplished gardener. She owns and operates her own nursery. She is just what James is looking for, but Tilly is not interested in designing his garden. Tilly agrees to think about it and she’s off with her young son to visit her ailing mother in her homeland, England.

In the English countryside, Tilly reconnects with her best friend, Rowena and her first love, Sebastian, who just happens to be going through a divorce. Should Tilly have married Sebastian all those years ago? And what about James, who has braved his extreme fear of flying and germs to come to England to persuade Tilly to design his garden. James is the type of man who is used to getting his way, but Tilly does not care about the money. She has her own fears to deal with and she continues to grapple with the guilt she feels for her husband’s death. Should she have held on?

As a widow, I empathized with Tilly. I understood her. I thought White did a beautiful job portraying the various stages of grief. It is hard to move on and there is so much guilt and fear associated with moving forward.

Tilly finds herself at home in England. Should she stay? What would that do to her son? North Carolina is the only home he has ever known.

The Unfinished Garden is a wonderful summer read and you have to keep turning the pages to see if Tilly will choose Sebastian, James, or the ghost of her late husband.

Continuing The Tradition of Sunday Dinners

Growing up Sundays usually meant church followed by Sunday dinner at my Grandmother’s house. We would all gather to eat and enjoy each other’s company. There were always family stories, old and new. It didn’t take much to become a family legend.

My Aunt Doris is still asked if her camera has film (even though she has a digital camera now). She arranged twenty of so of us including small children packed on Grandmother’s porch posing for a picture. She took several, each time setting the timer and nearly killing herself to get to her place in the picture. She snapped pictures all afternoon and then began to wonder why she did not have to put more film in – there wasn’t any film in there to start with. This was over thirty years ago, and it still follows her around.

Sunday dinners were always such a huge part of my childhood and I knew one day I would want to keep the tradition going for my own grandchildren. We lost Grandmother back in 2007, but the memories and the things she taught me still remain.


You love your children dearly, but when you get a grandchild, it is a different kind of love. I think perhaps you feel more freedom because you’re the grandparent, you don’t have all the day to day care and responsibility, but you do have all the pleasure. And all I can say about my grandson is that he is just so stinkin cute, even if he did learn to say SpongeBob before GrandMom.

I hope you’ll join me on Sundays. I’ll be sharing recipes and family stories.