The Last Garden

By April 16, 2018Book Reviews

Blurb: The settlement of Wahrheit, founded in exile to await the return of the Messiah, has been waiting longer than expected. Pastor Helfgott has begun to feel the subtle fraying of the community’s faith.
Then Matthias Orion shoots his wife and himself, on the very day their son Benedict returns home from boarding school.

Benedict is unmoored by shock, severed from his past and his future. Unable to be inside the house, unable to speak, he moves into the barn with the horses and chooks, relying on the animals’ strength and the rhythm of the working day to hold his shattered self together.

The pastor watches over Benedict through the year of his crazy grief- man and boy growing, each according to his own capacity, as they come to terms with the unknowable past and the frailties of being human.
Exquisite writing and such a heart-rending story! With his animals as his only solace a young man tries to deal with an horrific event which happened with no explanation. How he gets through this is quite fascinating. It’s a beautiful bond he makes with his horses and his chickens, but even there, there is more tragedy. The pastor tries to support the boy and give him time; but although he doubts himself, he gives the boy exactly what he needs. The boy being alone out on the farm causes unrest amongst the other parishioners; their visits are not welcome and ultimately this leads to suspicion and distrust. I absolutely love the support the wife gives him at the end and also the way the novel finishes.

It is quite shocking how a boy can be going along quite “normal” with a future in mind and anticipating a lovely visit home and suddenly his world is knocked off its foundations. Not knowing “why’ is the cruellest part of it.

The writing is quite atmospheric; the farm takes on a life of its own. While not a real town, it is likely set in South Australia. Totally recommend.