Five Minute Review: The Garden In The Clouds by Antony Woodward

Five minutes, one book, one review.

The Garden in the Clouds by Antony Woodward is an autobiographical novel depicting the author’s move from London to the Welsh borders. Woodward’s narration of events takes the reader down the rocky journey he personally experienced in his attempts to get his five-acre plot into the famous National Gardens Scheme (alias ‘the Yellow Book’).

Whilst this book is humorous and light hearted, you get a strong feeling of the inner frustration, difficultly and financial resources ploughed into what I personally thought was a rather unattractive house and garden to start with. I felt the author’s London background resulted in a writing style that overly romanticised country life to a point where it sounded like all rural folk are cheery, friendly people, happy to assist with demolished walls caused by clumsy urban folk wanting a taste of ‘the good life’. I’ll save you the trouble of finding out for yourself, we’re not.

This was a nice little read when sat in the bleakness of January, but I wouldn’t view The Garden in the Clouds as a particularly inspiring tale. It paints a sickly, unrealistic, image of rural life that has not existed for fifty years. Woodward’s need to become ‘at one’ with the landscape seemed so stereotypical you’d think he’d Googled ‘country life’ and adopted all the hobbies that came up on the listing. The National Garden’s Scheme, using a vintage tractor to make hay, keeping bees, in fact all that was missing was sheep farming (unfortunately his neighbour beat him to that one). If I was him I’d have saved myself the time, money and stress and bought myself somewhere in the South of France.

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