THE WATCHER IN THE GARDEN by Joan Phipson

THE WATCHER IN THE GARDEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is one of Phipson's keyed-up, over-orchestrated pieces in which the very forces of nature take sides in the conflict. The adversaries here are Catherine, a decent girl given to violent outbursts, and violence-prone Terry, son of a shiftless invalid father and a mother who fuels his resentment of ""Them""--the haves he sees as responsible for his father's bad luck in life. Specifically, Terry wants a piece of blind old Mr. Lovett's garden so his father tan open a gas station. (This ""garden"" is not your usual back yard but a matter of extensive acres.) But Catherine, who finds comfort in the garden, becomes friends with Mr. Lovett and concerned about the threat from scheming Terry. ""I have a curious feeling about you that somehow, somewhere, something has been left out--perhaps when you were bore,"" Mr. Lovett tells Catherine. Curiously, that is just what she bas always felt herself--and just what Terry's mother has said earlier of him. As Catherine watches warily, often sensing when he will be there, Terry's menacing figure appears often in the garden. And the garden--with a falling branch, a sliding rock, a biting snake--demonstrates its antagonism to his presence. Terry takes to buzzing Catherine on h/s motorcycle until both are hurt in an accident that heightens the formerly hinted telepathy between them. The two are invaded by each other's thoughts as Terry plots an accident for the old man; but in the final confrontation--with Mr. Lovett atop a precarious look-out, earth tremors compounding the hazard Terry bas plotted, and Catherine rushing desperately up unstable rocks to reach him--her thoughts get through to Terry and he saves the old man's lire. Despite some obviously stagey overwriting, acquiescent readers can get caught up in the atmospheric intensity of Phipson's allegorical conflict; but the story would have more force if the significance of the life at stake were clearer and the whole scheme free of classist clichÉs.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum