The Chain Garden

Written by Jane Jackson
Review by Sara Wilson

Grace Damerel is the daughter of the local tin mine owner and, as such, carries a huge burden of guilt over the recent number of deaths in the mine. In between caring for her invalid mother and preparing for the return of her twin brothers she also ministers to the poor, bereaved and sick in the local village of Treworthal.

Into her secluded life comes a young missionary, Edwin Philpotts, newly arrived from overseas. Their attraction is mutual, but both are hesitant to declare their feelings. Grace is inhibited by her lack of confidence and Edwin is battling his own guilty demons. Then the twins arrive home and it soon becomes obvious that the elder brother, Bryce, has a shadow hanging over him. In the background lies the mysterious symbolism of the chain garden, which looks so benign and beautiful on the surface, but probe into the ancient language of flowers, and a different and repelling story is waiting to be told.

The Chain Garden is more than a straightforward romance; it is also a study into the nature of guilt and the effect it can have over the human mind and heart. All of the characters carry their own burdens, to a greater or lesser extent, and have allowed it to colour their lives. It is only when each of them lets their guilt go, and accepts who and what they are, that they can each find happiness.

Jane Jackson’s novel is satisfying on many levels and succeeds in being an interesting story, well-written and pleasurable to read.