WALLED GARDENS: Scenes from an Anglo-Irish Childhood by Annabel Davis-Goff

WALLED GARDENS: Scenes from an Anglo-Irish Childhood

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A childhood memoir from novelist Davis. Goff(Night Tennis, Tailspin) that is both satisfyingly anecdotal and appropriately elegiac. Davis-Goff, now living in the US and formerly married to director Mike Nichols, begins her memories of growing up in southern Ireland in the 40's and 50's with the death of her father. A racing man and steeplechase rider, he would have approved of the decision to postpone his funeral until the day after the Grand National, a race that his friends had planned to attend. The services in Waterford Protestant cathedral and the burial later in the small coastal village serve as jumping-off points for Davis-Goff's account of a childhood in an old country house, too big to keep warm or to maintain, but where all the food was grown or raised on the land, servants' gossip was the equivalent of People magazine, and visits to the village and relatives were the only, but always relished, entertainment. Both grandparents had been comparatively wealthy, but the Depression, WW II, and a certain helplessness that seemed endemic among the Anglo. Irish of her acquaintance made for a shabby, genteel kind of poverty. She compares her own father to Jane Austen's Mr. Bennet--""he needed to retreat from a world changing too fast and in the wrong ways,"" though he never complained about the alteration in his fortunes. Family and friends, all full of character, are lovingly remembered, as is the landscape--in particular, the beautiful walled gardens where flowers flourished in glorious profusion. A loving but not sentimental evocation of growing up, recalled in middle age when one is so terribly aware of what has been lost forever. A fine and moving account.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1989
ISBN: 1906011028
Publisher: Knopf