Title: The Apothecary’s Garden
Author: Julie Bozza
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Read: January 22-23, 2014
Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Hilary Kent, a Londoner all his working life, retires to Wiltshire after an estranged cousin unexpectedly leaves him an inhabitable tower surrounded by an overgrown physic garden – and that’s when graduate student Tom Laurence suddenly erupts into his life, convincing him that together they can restore the ancient garden to its former glory. Tom’s cheerful friendship is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hilary and he’s perfectly content with that until, to his astonishment and confusion, it seems that Tom’s affection for him is beginning to grow into something more … something he feels he probably shouldn’t allow.
Once upon a time . . . Those four little words have always — past, present, and future — evoked feelings of magicalism and a world where dreams — all dreams — have the ability to become truth; all you have to do is wish it so. And though those words suggest a world of fantasy, of make-believe, they also suggest the possibility that once upon a time the story actually occurred, that the events that are unraveled actually took place, and that the people that the once upon a time belong to actually breathed their story.
So while, yes, a world of fantasy are breathed into existence because of those four little words, a world of reality, of anyone’s reality, are brought forth into the light and made aware to everyone who has the time and inclination to find it.
I can only hope that once upon a time the story between Hilary and Tom actually took place because this slowly formed friendship that then unfolds into love . . . It’s just a love, that if it existed, made the world a little better of a place.
I know, I know, I know that this book pushes a lot of people’s comfort zones because no one can deny that the age gap between Hilary and Tom is huge. Saying that the age gap is just too big to get over though is like saying that love between two people have an age limit. Now, does that make sense? It sure doesn’t to me. As far as I’m concerned, as long as everyone is of legal age and no one is being hurt (physically, emotionally, or mentally), then you can love whomever you want to.
And while Tom and Hilary’s story revolves a lot around their age difference, it’s not their entirety. It’s not what defines their love, it’s just rather a small, minuscule part of it that helps make it whole and theirs.
This was my first book by Julie Bozza so I can’t compare this work to any of her others, and I don’t want to compare it to any other author’s work because that’s like comparing apples and oranges (cliché, I know, but it’s true). All I know is that if her other work is anything like The Apothecary’s Garden, I’ll give it a go. One thing I do have to say that truly says something about Bozza’s talent as a writer (at least to me) is that while they’re a lot of exclamation marks thrown about in this story, which is a huge pet peeve of mine, I felt that, for once, the exclamation marks helped define the characters. I didn’t feel like they made what the character was saying feel forced, or fake, which is how a story begins to feel when an author uses too many exclamation marks; instead, I saw it as a way that she used to help show the eagerness of both Tom and of Hilary.
Like I said, Bozza is good.
Apothecary’s Garden is an extremely underrated book, but it deserves to be so much more than that, so do yourself a favor and pick up the book, forget about the age difference, and just read for Tom and Hilary.
Read it for their once upon a time . . .
“Hey, thanks,” Tom said as he took the cup of tea.
“Thank you for making it,” Hilary countered.
“Oh, that’ all right. I hope you don’t mind–”
“Not at all,” Hilary smoothly lied. Or, rather, told what he wanted to be the truth. There should be a special term for that. It should have positive connotations . . .
“You’ve got great hands, you know… I love watching them make tea, and handle fine china. Carry a tray so perfectly steady. Or tug a weed out of the ground, and then grasp the wheelbarrow’s handgrips. They’re competent, and they’re strong… and they’ve seen life.”