The Library will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in observance of Juneteenth.


The Twilight Garden

There are two residences on Eastbourne Road in Stoke Newington on the outskirts of London. Winston has lived in #79, with his boyfriend Lewis, for several years. Bernice, recently divorced, has just purchased #77 as a new home for herself and her young son, Sebastian. The two houses share a garden, which is increasingly becoming a point of contention between the two new neighbors. Just another bullet point on a growing list of grievances each has about the other.

One afternoon, Lewis finds an envelope in his mail. It is addressed to “the Young Man at Number 79” and it is filled with photographs of plants in a garden. Not just any garden, but the garden he shares with his neighbors. The garden is beautiful and it reminds Winston of the garden his mother had as he was growing up in India. Winston thinks about this and wonders what his mother would say of the condition of the garden at his own home. He decides that he should spend a little time in the garden, and try to make it a little nicer. He purchases some bulbs and decides to plant them. While he is in the garden doing so, Sebastian comes out to the garden to ask about what he is doing. Winston explains about the bulbs and asks if Sebastian would like to help. He would and he does. Bernice observes this in wonder. Sebastian, normally such a quiet and reserved child, seems to enjoy talking with Winston, her annoying neighbor. He also seems to enjoy working in the garden. A bit later, Bernice receives an envelope in her mail. It is addressed to “The Lady at Number 77” and is filled with photos of the shared garden, filled with plants of any and every variety. And people! So many people! There is a photo taken within the garden with a sign that reads “Eastbourne Road Community Garden.” Like Winston, Bernice is not quite sure what to make of the envelope full of photos, but it does cause her to wonder if, possibly, she too should make an effort toward tidying it up a bit.

Somewhere, nearby, is a gardener. Decades before, they made a promise, even though, at the time, they knew it would be difficult to keep. Now there is an opportunity, possibly the last, and they intend to try to fulfill that commitment made so long ago. The seeds have sown. . .will they take root?

In her debut novel, The Reading List, Sara Nisha Adams celebrated reading, stories, and the joy that comes when one moves from reading being a solitary pursuit to one that is shared and celebrated. In The Twilight Garden, Adams will take readers outside, as she celebrates gardens, gardening, and, again, how much better both are when shared.

Adams creates a marvelous cast of characters to populate the London neighborhood of Stoke Newington. And she does so in two separate time periods, decades apart, with just a bit of overlap. Her characters are as diverse as London’s population and are recognizable and relatable.

The Twilight Garden is a gentle novel that encourages us to reach out and connect with those in our immediate vicinity. It celebrates community and illustrates how both the ups and downs of living are made better when we have others with whom we can share them. And don’t be surprised if, after reading the last page, you feel a strong urge to find a place where you can try your hand at planting some seeds, or bulbs, and waiting to see what develops. Hopefully doing it with a friend, old or new.

Two interviews with the author can be found here and here.