My interest was peaked the moment I discovered that one of Notting Hill’s private gardens was part of the setting in London for Deborah Crombie’s latest 2017 book. Having already done some research myself on London’s Garden Squares for the latest novel of my own, I was doubly interested in how Crombie used the garden in the story. She never fails to deliver a well-written mystery with an on-going cast of characters that you care about. As usual, I had no idea who “done it” until all was revealed in Garden of Lamentations. Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are drawn into separate investigations that will keep you up reading later than you intended. As avid readers, we really never mind when good writing and a setting we can’t get enough of takes over our lives for a few days. This latest book will not fail your expectations of a Crombie mystery.
FYI: I thought you might like the benefit of my research to add to your enjoyment of this read. Garden Squares have long been a feature of London. A few, such as Trafalgar Square, were built as public open spaces, like the squares found in many cities. Most, however, were originally built as private communal gardens for use by the inhabitants of the surrounding houses. This type of space is most prevalent in central London, but squares are also found in the suburbs. Some of these gardens are now open to the public, while others, for example around Notting Hill, are still fenced and private. In this latest mystery, Cornwell Gardens in Notting Hill is private and should limit the list of suspects.
The making of residential squares fell into decline in the early twentieth century, one of the last notable such squares having been designed by Edwin Lutyens for the suburb Hampstead Garden. Numerous squares were in danger of being used as building sites. This was banned by the London Squares Act of 1931. Since 1998, numerous squares and other private gardens have been open to the paying public due to an initiative by Caroline Aldiss. This is called the “London open Garden Square Weekend” and takes place on the second weekend in June. The event is organized by the London Parks and Garden Trust and made possible by many volunteers.
This year you can explore 230 private, secret and little-known gardens across 27 London boroughs over one special weekend. Gardens range from the historic and traditional to the new and experimental and include private gardens, roof gardens, community allotments, gardens belonging to historic buildings, institutions, cafés, schools and shops. One ticket gives access to numerous gardens across the weekend. Read this new mystery, and imagine meeting me at the Open Garden Square Event in June. I WISH!
Open Garden Squares Weekend is on 17-18 June 2017.