For decades one of my favorite books has been The Magus by John Fowles, both versions. I have read both of them multiple times. I recently had the pleasure of finishing The Savage Garden by Mark Mills. This is only his second book and he looks relatively young which is always a good thing to my mind. I certainly hope he has many more novels in him. The Savage Garden owes quite a lot to The Magus, whether intentionally or otherwise. There are huge similarities and yet they are both wonderfully unique.
The Savage Garden takes place in Italy in 1958. A young Cambridge student of Art History is sent by his advisor to examine a very special garden in Tuscany. The garden itself is full of surprises and is not what it seems at first glance. Nor is anyone in the Docci Villa which owns the garden and surrounding property. Like The Magus there are incidental ties to the German occupation and there are almost as many twists and turns and surprises.There is more than one mystery to be solved by the protagonist and he does so brilliantly. In the end the young student comes away with much more than just his thesis. Mills' writing is so effortless that I could see the garden perfectly in my mind's eye and hear the wind and almost smell the surrounding countryside. Several hours of reading would pass in a flash. Reading like this is what I live for (after my family of course). I have no doubt I will find this book on my shelf in years to come and be delighted to read it again.
Friends who came to dinner yesterday kindly brought me a copy of Al Gore's new book, The Assault On Reason. I have plunged into it and will report soon. I have an idea he is articulating what some of us have been saying for several years now. But, of course, his weight is far more newsworthy.