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The Unfinished Garden Paperback – August 28, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2013 Golden Quill for Best First Book

"I learned so much about myself from this story-that fear doesn't have to hold me back, but rather, it can move me forward. The Unfinished Garden is a touching and accomplished debut."-Diane Chamberlain, bestselling author of The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

"White...conveys the condition of OCD, and how it creates havoc in one's life and the lives of loved ones, with style and grace, never underplaying the seriousness of the disorder."-RT BookReviews

"A powerful story of friendship and courage in the midst of frightening circumstances... I highly recommend this wonderful love story."-Bergers' Book Reviews

"A mesmerizing tale of fear, loss, and love. Tilly and James are richly drawn and wonderfully flawed characters who embody the contradictions and imperfections that exist in all of us. Barbara Claypole White has created a novel as beautiful and complex, dark and light, sweet and sensuous as Tilly's beloved garden."-Joanne Rendell, author of The Professors' Wives' Club

"Barbara Claypole White has created such a likable, adorable, entertaining main character that I never wanted this book to end."-Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

"I found the writing style in The Unfinished Garden reminiscent of Rosamunde and Robin Pilcher. As a fan of both, I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to many more from Barbara Claypole White."-Julie Kibler, author of Calling Me Home

About the Author

Barbara Claypole White writes love stories about damaged people. She grew up in rural England, studied history at York University, and worked in London fashion before marrying an American professor she met at JFK airport. Today they live in the forests of North Carolina with their award-winning poet son. Despite detours through journalism and marketing, Barbara chased her dream of becoming a novelist and was thrilled to find a publisher months before turning 50. Never give up is her motto!

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA; Original edition (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 077831412X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778314127
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in rural England with dreams of being a novelist. So, armed with a history degree, I became a publicist for London fashion. Passing through JFK Airport one day, I fell in love with an American professor. Eighteen months later I was a married marketing director in the Midwest cornfields, and I had a secret: I was writing a novel. An incredibly bad one.

When my husband was offered a distinguished professorship at UNC Chapel Hill, we moved to the North Carolina forest where I became a woodland gardener and a stay-at-home mom. Gradually I carved out time to write, but it wasn't until our young son developed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that I started writing hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness.

THE UNFINISHED GARDEN, a love story about grief, OCD, and dirt, won the 2013 Golden Quill for Best First Book. THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR, a story of two broken families coming together to heal, was chosen by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick. My third novel, THE PERFECT SON, a darkly quirky story of a family struggling to face the challenges threatening to rip it apart--psycho squirrels and moonshine included--was a Goodreads Choice Award Semifinalist for Best Fiction 2015.

To enter my crazy world, come to

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By CathyD on August 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I could not put Barbara Claypole White's The Unfinished Garden down. The characters are compelling and believable---and so deeply, lovably flawed that I found myself wondering how they would get out of the traps their own lives and their minds and their experiences set them in order to find one another and find themselves. Well, I don't want to give anything away, but a trowel is mightier than the sword, it turns out. The trans-Atlantic story is so compelling, making the English countryside and the North Carolina forests equally appealing, formidable, and inviting. The depictions of OCD were spot on but, well beyond the diagnosis, was the real appreciation of what you gain from this condition, as much as what you lose. In fact, the whole novel turns loss into love in a way that is entirely compelling. The language, artistry, plot, and insights into human nature (plus humor in the right doses, just when you need it) make this a book you cannot put down.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By etcbooks on August 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Unfinished Garden is a beautifully written, heart wrenching love story. The novel centers on Tilly Silverberg, a young widow raising her son Isaac. She has a successful business that demands her attention, and which she uses as an excuse to hide from the world, and to escape the guilt she feels over her beloved husband's death.

And then James Nealy, an attractive man who has retired young from his successful business as a software developer, shows upone night at Tilly's house. James suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder,and after years of therapy, is determined to face his fears and create a beautiful garden. He immediately is drawn to both Tilly and her stunning, wild garden, and knows that she must be the one to create his.

Although Tilly sell plants, she doesn't design gardens. And she does not want to deal with clients. But James will not take no for an answer. When Tilly and Isaac rush to her beloved home in England to deal with a family emergency, Tilly is confronted with her first love, Sebastian, who is going through a divorce and clearly still has feelings for Tilly, and Tilly discovers a lump in her breast.

In the midst of all of this, James unexpectedly appears at her childhood home. Their relationship is tenuous at first, but as they work together to create a garden, their love also blossoms.

As in life, there are no simple characters in this novel, each is layered and flawed, but all are beautifully crafted by the immensely talented author, Barbara Claypole White. In short, I would highly recommend The Unfinished Garden. It will appeal to all hopeless romantics, and to those who just love a beautifully written book with wonderful characters.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Morgan on September 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
About fifteen minutes ago I finished reading The Unfinished Garden. Coming to the end is bittersweet, really. For the last week, I've carried Barbara Claypole White's novel with me everywhere, picking it up in spare moments, even if only to read a few sentences before moving on to my next task. I must admit that I attempted to race through each page, eager to uncover more and more of the saga between Tilly and James; however, I was constantly slowed down by the sheer beauty of the author's words, the emotional depth of the characters, and the richness of the unfolding plot. I'm so grateful for all that Claypole White taught me about OCD through The Unfinished Garden. I've dreamed of being a writer ever since I was a little girl, and it is truly a joy to come across a book such as this - one that does more than entertain me... one that inspires me. As I was reading, I would often stop just to savor a scene, soaking in every ounce of the vivid description, imagining that I was exploring the Chase or lounging in a lush meadow. The author has an amazing ability to weave words together in a way that feels effortless, as if those exact words were always intended to be melded together into beautiful prose; although, I am sure that the author took great care in selecting each word, each phrase, each sentence of every paragraph, of every page, of every chapter... it certainly shows. Claypole White has created a work of art, a true masterpiece. I love how she eagerly invited me, her devoted reader, right into the thick of the story. Claypole White brought me into the complex minds of James and Tilly, sharing their deepest thoughts in a way that blended their reality with my own. Their honestly often made me laugh out loud, thinking to myself something like "that is so Tilly!Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lori Nelson Spielman on November 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
What's better than a book that makes you laugh and cry, a book you cannot wait to return to each evening because it feels like spending time with an old friend rather than a collection of pages? Barbara Claypole White has managed to create such a book with her debut novel, THE UNFINISHED GARDEN. White's intimate writing style brings life to the young widow, Tilly, and her flawed friend, James, along with the entire cast of vibrant and distinct characters. The book's fresh premise provides a glimpse into the fascinating and heartbreaking world of OCD, but never feels preachy or melodramatic. This beautiful book touched me deeply, and I look forward to reading more by this talented new author.
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