The Ghost Garden

Written by Emma Carroll
Review by Rebecca Butler

In the summer of 1914 World War I is imminent. The protagonist Fran is the daughter of an under gardener at Longbarrow House, a manor house owned by Mrs. Walker. Mrs. Walker’s grandchildren come to stay for the summer. There is a boy named Leo and a pair of obnoxious twins. As a result of an accident on the cricket field, Leo breaks his leg and temporarily takes to a wheelchair. Fran is assigned to look after Leo.

Leo is very politically aware, studying the newspapers every day. He is convinced that a war is imminent, unlike all the other inhabitants of the manor house who prefer to ignore the portents of war. Together Leo and Fran discover a secret burial ground. They take their discovery as an omen of the impending conflict.

The most appealing feature of this novel is the way the author develops the relationship between Leo and Fran. Initially Leo is rather remote, acutely aware of the social distance between the grandson of the manor house’s owner and the daughter of a subordinate gardener. As their belief in the imminent conflict grows, so the gap between them narrows.