The Floating Garden

One of the wonderful things about being in a long-time writing group is watching others’ writing take shape and make its way out into the world.

I’ve just finished reading the exquisite first novel by my friend and writing group colleague, Emma Ashmere.  Just published, The Floating Garden is set in 1920s Milsons Point in Sydney, where entire streets were demolished for the building of the Harbour Bridge. Ellis Gilbey, who runs a boarding house by day and writes a gardening column by night, is set to lose everything. Only the faith in the book she’s writing, and hopes for a garden of her own, stave off despair as her familiar world crumbles.

If you’d like to know more, Emma was interviewed by Kate Evans on ABC Radio National’s Books Plus and she shed more light on this fascinating time in Sydney’s history. You can listen to the interview here. Emma’s interview starts 13 minutes in.

At this point, a confession. I am not a huge reader of historic fiction, but Emma’s book completely grabbed me (and not just because I know and love her). It might have been the fascinating setting, or the character of Ellis who was immediately so likeable even in her slight prickliness. Most of all it was the writing: subtle and elegant, wise and wry, and so powerfully evocative of 1920’s Sydney. And a story that includes lots of gardening detail is always a winner for me.