Monday, December 9, 2013

A Vintage Reads Review: The China Garden


The China Garden by Liz Berry, October 6, 1999. 288 pages. Published by HarperTeen. Source: Bought.
When Clare moves with her mother from London to Ravensmere, a historic English estate, she can't shake the feeling that the residents already know her, especially Mark, a maddeningly attractive biker. Clare also feels compelled to take midnight walks in Ravensmere's abandoned China Garden. Then her mother reveals that their own past is tragically linked to the estate. But when Clare discovers that Ravensmere is in grave danger, will she risk her future-and Mark's-to save it?
First Sentence:
Dark of the moon.
It has been maybe five years and probably eight hundred + books since I first discovered Liz Berry's The China Garden. As I was re-reading it for the first time, I could not help but scratch my head because there was so much in it that I failed to recall. I guess you could say The China Garden was NA before NA existed.

While I may not have cared too much for the characters in The China Garden I loved the atmosphere of the setting and seeing a Guardians choice to accept or fail the Trust would change their life. This book definitely had a dark, mysterious aire to it that kinda of just pulls you along for the ride. Even though I had some problems with the story and characters, what makes it interesting is how the next generation of Guardians is given the opportunity to set right the failings of the previous generations.
    Also, it was interesting to see how involved the entire town was in keeping the secrets of Ravensmere from the prying eyes of outsiders without really knowing what it was they were helping to guard. You don't really see that kind of close-knitted communitytype in must books.

So, what drew me to buying and re-reading a book I only vaguely remembered, well, that's easy. I loved the mystery and the feel of the setting. But what really drew me and kept me reading, even when I had some big dislikes with this one, well that would be the continuity of the Guardians and how there was always someone watching over the mysterious Benison and its connection with the land and people of Ravensmere.
  While I really enjoyed the mysterious elements of The China Garden, it would not have been nearly as good if the author had been unable to answer all the questions posed by said mystery. I was definitely glad to see that everything was cleared up by the end. 

While I enjoyed most aspects of The China Garden there are just a couple things that I just flat-out did not like about the book. My biggest complaint when it comes to this book would have to be the love interest, Mark. I frankly did not care for him or some of the things he did.Even though he does straighten his act up towards the tail end of the book, there are a couple reasons I was against having him as the main love interest for Claire.
  My final problem with Liz Berry's book would have to be the whole connection thingy between the Guardians and how they always were drawn to each other. It was, well, cliche and annoying to me because I hate it when the love aspect of a book is "love at first sight" or  where they're attracted to each other for no real reason. So, yeah, I was so not feeling the romantic angle in The China Garden, but then again I rarely read a book looking for romantic times. 

Content: Will contain spoilers (highlight to see):
[As I was re-reading The China Garden, I couldn't help but be surprised by a couple of things that happened in it. For one, I did not remember that there was a scene I skipped over due to two of the characters having sex. It was frankly shocking when I noticed that they were heading that direction. 

Let's see, there is one scene in which Claire and Mark have sex; a couple bouts of them overly kissing; and Mark letting his hands do a little too much roaming.]

Final Verdict: While slow to get going, The China Garden is steeped in gothic style mystery that slowly pulls you in.

The China Garden earns 4 out of 5 pineapples. 

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