The Garden of Lost Secrets

Shakespeare's Telling Tales: A M Howell

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My visit to Shakespeare’s Telling Tales this weekend continued with A M Howell’s event. She was talking about her wonderful book, ‘The Garden of Lost Secrets’ and how she came to write it. This is a brilliant story, set in 1916, when Clara is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle. Taking a huge secret with her, she finds herself living in the Gardener’s Cottage on a country estate. Here she finds there are many other secrets, including a thief who is stealing the exotic fruits from the estate hothouses. Beautifully atmospheric and full of charm, it is an excellent read and I was keen to find out more about the author.

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Ann-Marie told us about the diaries she wrote as a child and even read us a section from one! Talking about where stories come from, she told us that she gets lots of ideas from places she visits and Ickworth House in Suffolk gave her the idea for her story. Its walled gardens and the gardener’s cottage started her imagination working overtime and when she researched the history of the estate, she heard that a gardener’s notebook had been found which was about 100 years old. When she met with the head gardener, it turned out that the contents were not all that exciting, but it added to the mix of thoughts and ideas which became the book.

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Ann-Marie then encouraged the audience to create their own settings- and there were so many ideas! Lots of weird and wonderful locations were suggested for stories which hopefully will be written by the lively minds that created them. It was a great session and a satisfying conclusion to this year’s visit to Shakespeare’s Telling Tales.

The Garden of Lost Secrets A M Howell

Usborne ISBN: 978-1474959551