The Opal Octopus

Reading and reviews by the Indian Ocean

Review: The Memory Garden by M. Rickert


The Memory Garden
by M. Rickert

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
on May 6th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Review: The Memory Garden by M. Rickert
Synopsis: Bay Singer has bigger secrets than most. She doesn't know about them, though. Her mother, Nan, has made sure of that. But one phone call from the sheriff makes Nan realize that the past is catching up. Nan decides that she has to make things right, and invites over the two estranged friends who know the truth. Ruthie and Mavis arrive in a whirlwind of painful memories, offering Nan little hope of protecting Bay. But even the most ruined garden is resilient, and their curious reunion has powerful effects that none of them could imagine, least of all Bay.

Tears, all the tears, but not in a bad way. Yes, there is death and dying, but there is hope and forgiveness and mother-love and the affinity and bickering between old women. There is memory and forgetting and snow and sunlight and ghosts and a doorstep-baby and the echoes of ancient crimes. There is herb-lore and fertility choice and witchery and a shoe garden and a society that does not approve.

Infused with food and woven with flowers, The Memory Garden is an absolute delight.

A few quotes:


Over the years, shoes were often thrown at the old house brooding atop its slope on Muir Glenn Road. The sole occupant of the old Victorian showed no distress upon finding footwear strewn about, however; she merely studied the smelly things as though evaluating works of art before taking them inside where boots, sneakers, heels, and cleats were transformed into charming planters.
It was because of the shoe garden that the house became locally famous, though there had always been rumors about disturbing fertile elements in the soil. The large elm tree, for instance, was not only unaffected by the disease that killed so many in the sixties, but thrived, branching dark shadows across the entire left side of the porch, which did not impede the vigor of blue heaven morning glory or moonflowers trained to crawl up the railings. The rose mallow flourished in their boots, as did the hollyhocks, the hostas’ great leaves obscured the shoes they were planted in, the pennyroyal grew so vigorously in the lady’s slipper it had to be divided several times and the forget- me- not sweetly flowered blue above men’s work shoes.



She serves good red wine, chosen for its smoldering taste, hoping it will ruin both girls for the cheap affection of high school boys.



I thought we would never see each other again. When I think of how often I wished I could call you girls, well, that’s water under the table now, isn’t it? What’s done is done. Who would have guessed? When we were young?”
“Guessed what?”
“Well, you know”— Ruthie frowns— “how long the past is.
The way it just goes on and on.”



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