Driven by a need for some control in her life, Juliet sells up on impulse and buys a dilapidated farmhouse in a tiny Greek village, leaving her English life behind.
The house is livable by local standards, but the job of restoring the garden is too big. It requires strength. Juliet cannot bring it to life on her own.
Around the olive tree, hidden beneath the covering of bindweeds, are mattresses, broken chairs, shepherds’ crooks, and old goat bells, the remains of past lives intertwined in a slow decay. The beauty of the garden is lost with the years of neglect and no one to appreciate it.
Juliet reluctantly enlists casual labour. She has no desire to share her world with anyone. The boys have grown, Mick has gone. This is her time now.
Aaman has travelled to Greece from Pakistan illegally. His task is to find work and raise money for the harvester his village desperately needs to deliver them out of poverty. Poverty that is sending the younger generation to the cities, dividing families, and slowly destroying his community.
What he imagined would be a heroic journey in reality is fraught with danger and corruption. He finds himself in Greece and follows the work, a little here, a little there. As time passes, he loses his sense of self. He is now an immigrant worker, illegal, displaced, unwanted, with no value. Some days he does not have enough money to feed himself, let alone to return home to Pakistan.
In the village square, he waits for work, dawn not even broken.
Juliet hires Aaman.
Neither is entirely comfortable with their role. Juliet the Westerner, who has money and a valid passport, resents the intrusion even though she wants her garden cleared. Aaman needs the work and money but resents the humiliation.
As the summer progresses, even though they are from vastly different backgrounds, cultures apart, they discover they have something in common, an event that has defined how they interact and even how they view themselves. Pieces of their lives they have kept hidden even from themselves are exposed. They are each other’s catalysts to facing their own ghosts…
Praise for ‘The Illegal Gardener’
This book hooked me immediately! I could relate to many of the happenings in this book and felt the love of Greece radiating from page to page but it also made me reflect on loneliness and appreciate my own often hectic life. I look forward to the next!
A good tale well told. Shades of Stienbeck and Bradbury. The story motors on. Will look out for more of Sara’s work.
It is well worth the cover price – I can only recommend that you read it – I have no doubt that you will enjoy it. Looking forward to the next one in the Greek Village series – not sure when it will appear but will certainly keep checking. A great and thought provoking read.
What a great book – I devoured it in a couple of days and was left wanting more, always a sign of a good book! Very well drawn characters, details of the quirks of Greek village life and the culture difference between east and west.
A perfect summer read you really feel involved with the characters, it leaves you wanting more so pleased to know there will be more Greek Village stories.