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The discovery of a secret garden with unknown powers fuels this page-turning and psychologically thrilling tale of women yearning to become mothers and the ways the female body has always been policed and manipulated, from the award-winning author of The Illness Lesson (“A masterpiece” – Elizabeth Gilbert)
In 1948, Irene Willard, who’s had five previous miscarriages in a quest to give her beloved husband the child he desperately desires and is now pregnant again, comes to an isolated house-cum-hospital in the Berkshires, run by a husband-and-wife team of doctors who are pioneering a cure for her condition. Warily, she enlists herself in the efforts of the Doctors Hall to “rectify the maternal environment,” both physical and psychological. In the meantime, she also discovers a long-forgotten walled garden on the spacious grounds, a place imbued with its own powers and pulls. As the doctors’ plans begin to crumble, Irene and her fellow patients make a desperate bid to harness the power of the garden for themselves—and must face the incalculable risks associated with such incalculable rewards.
With shades of Shirley Jackson and Rosemary's Baby, The Garden delves into the territory of motherhood, childbirth, the mysteries of the female body, and the ways it has always been controlled and corralled.
About the Author
CLARE BEAMS is the author of the novel The Illness Lesson and the story collection We Show What We Have Learned, which won the Bard Prize and was a Kirkus Best Debut of 2016, as well as a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award. With her husband and two daughters, she lives in Pittsburgh, where she teaches creative writing, most recently at Carnegie Mellon University and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.
“No one writes feminist historical fiction like Clare Beams. With her singular lyricism, elegance, and candor, The Garden powerfully illuminates what is, for many women, a private and isolating grief. Ingeniously using elements of the gothic and weaving in today’s most pressing questions about female bodily autonomy, Beams captures the magic, strangeness, terror, and all-consuming pressure of pregnancy, as well as the desperate desire for certainty and the abiding hope. I’m in awe of this book.” —Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers
"The Garden renders beautifully the uncanny, haunted space that pregnancy both occupies and creates. Beams’s glancing, needle-prick prose reminds me of Shirley Jackson’s work in its ability to conjure up women--their histories, their fears, the complexity of their desires, and their power. I loved this novel.” —Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
“THE GARDEN is a shimmering, sinister jewel of a novel, with an aching, Shirley Jackson like heart. Highly recommended!" —Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk
“Clare Beams is a master of fiction…Born in the literary legacy of Angela Carter and Stephen King, THE GARDEN is, like every child, utterly itself in the end—miraculous and beautiful and strange.” —Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth
“Deliciously eerie and brilliantly written, Beams explores motherhood and gestation in a way that feels new and trailblazing, but that will also ring true to the lived experience of every woman who has ever been pregnant. A shimmering, strange, important novel— I couldn’t put it down.” —Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen
“Clare Beams casts an intoxicating spell with The Garden, a gothic tale about nature’s dark whims and the unknowable chaos of matrescence. Prepare to be haunted.” —Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch
"The Garden is a novel to devour whole. It is a page-turner, a puzzle, an assembly of piercing insights into womanhood, ambition, and autonomy, in language as bewitching as it is exact." —Megha Majumdar, author of A Burning “THE GARDEN's gender politics, barbed wit, moral complexity, and genuine sense of unease recalls the best of Shirley Jackson's work…This swirling marvel of a novel cements Clare Beams as a read-everything-she-ever-writes writer." —Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts