No one knows why Iris walked off her life from this small New England coastal community decades ago. Following the mysterious death of Iris's husband, no one knows why she and her daughter, Claire, have had nothing to do with each other for decades. And, now, no one knows why Iris has opened her cottage, once inhabited by Claire, to a stranger, June, and her baby. With characters molded by loss and damage, their stories slowly emerge against the backdrop of exquisite New England countryside. Like pieces of an intricate puzzle, their roles mesh and fit perfectly, shunning sorted pasts and rooted in the present, unafraid of the future!— From Jane
"Soulful and exquisite, this novel blooms with the beauty of humanity."--Shelf Awareness
"In this exceptional novel, Melanie Wallace conveys the depths and complexities of life in a seemingly uneventful New England village. The Girl in the Garden strikingly affirms Eudora Welty's belief 'that one place understood helps us understand all other places better.'"--Ron Rash, author of Serena and Above the Waterfall
"Powerful...A quiet, contemplative novel that builds slowly and leaves a lasting impact."--Publishers Weekly
When June arrives on the coast of New England, baby in arms, an untrustworthy man by her side, Mabel--who rents them a cabin--senses trouble. A few days later, the girl and her child are abandoned.
June is soon placed with Mabel's friend, Iris, in town, and her life becomes entwined with a number of locals who have known each other for decades: a wealthy recluse with a tragic past; a widow in mourning; a forsaken daughter returning for the first time in years, with a stranger in tow; and a kindly WWII veteran who serves as the town's sage. Surrounded by the personal histories and secrets of others, June finds the way forward for herself and her son becoming determined by the others' pasts, including loves--and crimes--from years ago.
In vivid, nuanced prose, Melanie Wallace--"a writer with a tender regard for the marginal, the missing, and the lost" (Hilary Mantel)--explores the time-tested bonds of a small community, the healing power of friendship and love, and whether the wrongs of the past can ever be made right.