Review published on July 4, 2017.
Secrets of the Italian Gardener is a novella but for a short read it certainly packs plenty in. The ghost writer is in the Middle East in what he knows could be a dangerous place, trying to help a dictator to write his autobiography. It doesn’t take much to imagine the situation, the surroundings, the regime and then the violent uprising, as we’ve all seen this kind of thing unfold in the news.
The book surprised me. It started out having me wondering if it was going to be too dry for me and then completely drew me into the story. The Italian gardener of the title is an interesting man who the ghost writer meets at the palace. Seemingly living a simple life in the middle of his friend, the dictator’s, regime, there is much more to him than meets the eye.
Told in the first person by the ghost writer (who remains nameless), there is a sense of foreboding throughout. There is also a moral question here: one concerning how far would you go for money?
I found this book to be totally absorbing. Interestingly, the author has been in similar situations to the ghost writer in the story, which adds another dimension to it for me in that I’m wondering how much of the events he actually experienced himself.
This book is not quite my usual sort of read, but it is one that I found fascinating, interesting and compelling.
Nicola Smith 4/4
Secrets of the Italian Gardener by Andrew Crofts
9781490351841 pbk Jul 2013