The Apothecary's Garden

The Apothecary's Garden - Julie Bozza You know when you are having a crap week, work is horrible, people are just melting your head and you feel as if you are so stretched to capacity that a meltdown is imminent? Everything is going wrong and you feel a bit helpless? You know those kinds of weeks?

We all have them and this week I had one, things just don’t seem to be going right for me and by the end of the day every day this week I've been feeling a bit battered but every evening I went home, did what needed to be done, lit my candles and curled up in a ball with a book that soothed. I felt like everything started to slow down around me and my mind stopped whirling for a little while.


The Apothecary’s Garden is not a fast paced book, it isn’t even a slow paced book, it’s more of a crawl but it is a beautifully written crawl. It’s a story about a love that people outside looking in might not understand but from the inside is sweet and poignant and a joy to witness. When I started reading this I will admit that I found it a little difficult to wrap my head around but about half way through I found myself getting all self-righteous and mumbling to myself about how it’s unfair that society accepts an older man and younger women more easily than an older man and younger man or an older women and younger man. Love is love right? Why can’t we just accept that and move on. (I may not have been all Zen at these times.)

”The way I see it is: you’ve got a heart that loves… and bits that give you pleasure… and dignity to be respected. And so do I. We all do.”

“Oh, Tom!”

“What else does any of us need? And what do white hair and wrinkles matter, compared to that?”


The physic garden almost felt like another character for me, it was the catalyst that brought Hilary and Tom together and as the garden was cleared and began to become what it once was Hilary and Tom’s relationship began to change from one of friendship to one of love. It seemed integral to their relationship and a physical manifestation of their love. It was ever present and almost comforting.

”He had more richness in his life, after all, than he had ever looked for.”
”And you? Are you mine as well?”

“Yes,” said Hilary, suddenly breathless.

“Because that’s really all I care about,” Tom grumbled. “Can I kiss you now?”

What really struck a chord with me while reading this book however was not only the love story but Hilary’s loneliness in the beginning. He was living half a life and he was living that way because he was born into a generation that did not allow him to be who he was, that did not allow him to love and that seemed the most tragic thing of all because his love was a really beautiful bright thing and he lived most of his life hiding that light. I was so happy he got to show that love to someone, especially someone like Tom who loved fiercely but it makes me sad to think about all the Hilary’s that have not found their Tom because of antiquated laws and bigotry.

I remember as a kid going to visit my grandmother and her dragging me along to visit all her neighbors, one of her neighbors was a confirmed bachelor who lived in what was once his parents’ house. He was a kind, funny and generous man, he was old (although he was probably only in his 60’s but that at the time seemed ancient to me) but looking back I think he was quite a handsome man and he gave me loads of fizzy orange and crisps when we visited, so I thought he was all kinds off cool. So cool I remember asking my grandmother why he wasn’t married, in my child's mind I thought he should have someone and she just said he never found the right person. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions but now I wonder if perhaps he never found the right person because he was a farmer who lived in a rural part of Ireland and was born to a generation that thought that the person he might have found would have been the wrong one. Homosexuality was not decriminalised in Ireland until 1993. There always was a large amount of bachelors in Ireland prior to that (there still are) and I know that a lot is circumstance and living rurally is not conducive to meeting anyone gay or straight but I wonder how many people from that generation lived a life without finding love, feeling they were not able to find love or not being able to be with the one they loved? I wonder how many died without ever experiencing what Hilary finally did. I think the tears that this book caused were for those people and maybe a sweet lovely man who gave me lots of fizzy orange and crisps.

”I suppose I envy you for being of a generation that need know nothing of the … the secrets… and the shame.”


”When it’s over, any sadness I feel will be nothing compared to my gratitude for the great happiness you’ve brought me.”

The references to ‘Midsomer Murders’ were lovely and I think I need to watch some of the show again, especially because I never realised when I first watched it just how off the wall and judgmental the writing was. I’m a little disappointed about it actually but the show gave Hilary and Tom their Thursday nights so I’ll keep an open mind until I see it again. I also found myself giving a big WOOP to the ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” reference. For that alone Julie Bozza is awesome and the tea, let’s not forget the tea. I did drink copious amounts while reading this, it seemed wrong not to. I’m also planning on calling into a tea shop near my house and buying myself some Assam.


This book is really a 3.5 stars kind of book, it's very slow and while some might think a little boring I enjoyed the easy flow, lack of massive drama and the beautiful writing. Thanks to Irina for suggesting this and inviting me to join her BR, I know I fell behind but I really enjoyed it and probably would of put it off if not for the little push!!