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Garden of Shadows Audio, Cassette – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
Some spoilers next, but I will try not to give too much away.
I quite enjoyed the beginning of this book and became less enchanted with it by the end, much I imagine like Olivia felt about her marriage to Malcolm Foxworth. Other reviewers have stated it was hard to feel sorry for Olivia based on her actions. I disagree. I feel what Andrews did is entirely plausible given the time period this book starts out in. Olivia starts out a good and just woman of strong faith and propriety. That same faith and sense of propriety and duty are inevitably her downfall. Back in the day it would have been unheard of for a woman to up and leave her husband and family, no matter the circumstances, and a part of Olivia's decisions were also prideful. No woman wants to admit their husband doesn't love them and treats them vilely. And for all of Olivia's strengths, she also has a very low opinion of herself, thus which allows her to accept her fate as Malcolm's unappreciated, cruelly treated wife. Her own father, as much as he loved her, shared a typical view of the time, 'ugly girls are unlikely to find suitable husbands' and further engrained into Olivia to accept whatever her lot in life would be. She herself was naïve in love and doomed herself to a horrible marriage by rushing in. And her own pride and character prevented her from choosing a path that although would have undoubtedly made her life better would have strayed from societal expectations, which was unacceptable to her moral sense of character. Does that excuse her actions, no. But the course of her life and character makes sense as to why she becomes so twisted and lonely by the end of this saga. My rating says 3 stars, but it is more like 3 and a half stars. I think Andrews did a great job of showing how someone good can turn bad and I did feel the need to want to read it to the end. I finished this book in about 2 days. The only time I felt a lull was at the very end when John Amos's character became a more prominent figure and he began to weigh the prose down with his religious fanaticism. Although, his character also shows how the influence of someone can be pivotal to twisting a person to something they are not as well. However, by the time you reach this novel if you are starting from the very fist book in the series that type of character has been seen and done many times over in this series, so starts to feel like Andrews is hitting us over the head with a book saying, "See how influential these characters are!" Andrews also likes to make a character's fault an extreme and that character ends up being the living embodiment of that fault. Not many characters are grey or in between and that makes for a less complex feel overall. My biggest complaint is more about the series as a whole. By the time you reach book 5 so much death and tragedy has occurred you start to feel drained and wiped out. How can one family possibly undergo so much tragedy? And not a single one of them seems to learn from past mistakes. There is no silver lining and not one character seems to have bettered themselves, so it leaves the reader feeling a bit depressed. However, this book is a good example of a character study of how a good person can become twisted into something else by the events around them and their own failings as a human being.