Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Apothecary's Garden Paperback – September 5, 2017
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
About the Author
Julie Bozza is an English-Australian hybrid who is fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, unreasonably excited by photography, and madly in love with Amy Adams and John Keats.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I loved this book. You must understand, I am Hilary Kent. Well, almost. Actually, I'm only 58, my big brother is Hilary Kent. But straight. And married. With kids. Sigh. OK, the POINT is, that my greatest sadness in the m/m genre world is the absolute rule that no one over 40 is allowed to be in love, or sexy. Once you're over 50, you're a pathetic old queer with no life and no value to a story except to be a joke or a victim. (Sorry, ladies, I blame you for this.)
So, to repeat, I loved this book.
Such a British book, just as Hilary is such a British man. I know plenty of American gay men his age, and none of them have that reticent, self-abnegating, gentle spirit that makes Hilary someone I loved instantly. And, in my case, identified with from the first page. But this also makes him very sad, to me.
Hilary, at 65, was 21 when anti-sodomy laws were finally repealed in England in 1967. As a result, he has learned to live a gay life of such perfect discretion that he has given up on any idea of real happiness - he has settled, instead, for contentment. Alone his whole life, now retired to a little medieval tower house he inherited from a crackpot old cousin he didn't even know, he is content. But, like his crazy recluse cousin, Hilary has not cultivated his garden. He knows nothing about his garden or about the man who created it. Il n'a pas cultivé son jardin. He has not really lived his life. Sad, that.
Into this quiet, controlled life pops Tom, twenty-three, a graduate student in medieval archaeology at the local uni. He is studying gardens, and in particular Hilary's Kent's garden - overgrown after half a century of neglect. Apparently, a possibly gay Anglican priest name Thaddeus of Kent planted the garden as a medicinal laboratory 400 years earlier. And Tom is all over it.
And Tom is cute. And gay. And very out. He has lovely hands. (shiver) Hilary notices.
Absolutely nothing of consequence happens in this book. But, if you're like me, you are caught up from the first page, because you, too, fall in love with Tom. But what could possibly happen between a sixty-five-year-old pensioner and a grad student 42 years younger? Read it and find out. If this was the last m/m book I ever read, I would die happy.
But I do have a bit of a quibble. This is a story of two men who fall in love. The problem is that there is a huge age difference, 40 years, between the two. Well, it's not a problem for the young man, Tom, but a serious one for Hilary, the older lover.
Hilary was raised at a time when it was still illegal to be gay, and spent his life being circumspect - content, but not happy. The young graduate student, Tom, changes all that and shows Hilary that more could be had, if one had the courage to go for it.
The obstacle is Hilary's conviction that he has to end the affair to afford the young man he loves the opportunity to find someone more his own age, to live his youth before he loses it, and not to tie himself down to the old fart. Of course, that's how Hilary sees himself, while Tom sees him as a wise, gracious partner and a sexy, passionate lover.
The quibble is that it seems that this entire genre (M/M Romance) needs to have self-defeating gay men in order to exist. There was no approbation, no disapproval of any sort, no accusations of impropriety - I mean, even Tom's parents really liked Hilary.
So, the gay man has to sabotage his own life and their relationship, to be the noble altruist who sacrifices their love on the altar of expectations. And that is a problem in that it's hardly a credible gay issue. Since the time of Plato and Socrates, older, experienced, men have had relationships with youth that were both passionate and mentoring. Even today (haven't any of these authors ever heard of "sugar daddies"?) there's a whole subculture of contemporary gay life in which young men idolize and love older men, and use their guidance and support to find their own way in the world.
So, although the book deserves five stars for its brilliant writing, characters and emotional content, I'm not equally impressed with the book's premise.
Oh, and I am so glad I did. Told in third person from Hilary's point of view, you get a wonderful sense of this gentle self-effacing man, who has lived a quiet and solitary life. He inherits a place in Wiltshire, and here he meets young Tom, who is more mature than his 23 years would have him seem. Tom tells Hilary about the history of the garden he has inherited, and that he would like to work on it as part of his thesis. Together they form a fast friendship, and while Hilary finds himself very much in love, he tries so very hard to keep it platonic. Others will not understand, and he does not want for Tom, his dear friend and love, to experience anything negative, that could diminish the candour and purity that is Toms light. Tom, however, pushes and prods, and argues for their love to be physical as well as emotional.
The writing style of this novel reflects Hilary's age. Not old fashioned per se, but very English, with manners and copious amounts of tea, and gentle fun, and quiet reflection. And a little mystery a la "Midsomer Murders".
I finished this with tears in my eyes, and a warm heart. Waited about 2 hours with the story and the cadence of Julie's writing floating in my head.......and went back to the beginning to read it again! Thank you Julie, for the gift of your wonderful writing, and imagination, and for this gentle and lovely tale.
Most recent customer reviews
If you like age gaps in romance this is a doozy. There are so many little gestures to love in this quiet romance.Read more
I liked it and ...at the same time I ...don't know what to think about it.
The writing was beautiful.Read more