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The Girl in the Garden
by Melanie Wallace

Published: 2017-01-31
Hardcover : 0 pages
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An unforgettable novel about a young woman and her infant son, abandoned at a seaside motel in New England, and the secrets of the townspeople who provide them with shelter.

When June arrives on the coast of New England, baby in arms, an untrustworthy man by her side, Mabel—who rents ...
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Introduction

An unforgettable novel about a young woman and her infant son, abandoned at a seaside motel in New England, and the secrets of the townspeople who provide them with shelter.

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 one another 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; a lawyer, whose longings he can never reveal; and a kindly World War II 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 amid revelations of 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”*—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. 
 
* Hilary Mantel

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Excerpt

1974

Mabel knew before the girl came to speak with her what she’d say: that the man who hadn’t so much as posed as the girl’s husband hadn’t returned and wasn’t going to. She?—?Mabel?—?had surmised?—?no, she later told Iris over the phone, correcting herself, not surmised but known?—?from the moment she first saw them that he’d already washed his hands of her. For when he got out of the car he disregarded the girl, left her to open the passenger-side door and manage to get to her feet, stand, with that sleeping infant in her arms. He didn’t even glance behind him to check on her, just walked toward the office porch and left her to trail him. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. The girl in the garden, June, is rescued by Mabel. But their relationship is not the primary focus of the novel. Instead, Mabel acts like a catalyst for June and local loner Iris to forge a bond. Why do you think Wallace chose a third character to help in bringing the two women together?

2. Why do you think it important that the backdrop of the novel be during the Vietnam War?

3. Loss and healing are very important theme in THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN, how do the characters help each other in moving beyond their past traumas?

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