The Illegal Gardener by Sara Alexi

29675054The Illegal Gardener
Book #1 of The Greek Village Collection by Sara Alexi

GoodReads Summary:
Driven by a need for some control in her life Juliet sells up on impulse and buys a dilapidated farm house in a tiny Greek village, leaving her English life behind.

The house is liveable by local standards but the job of restoring the garden is too big, it requires strength. Juliet cannot bring it to life on her own. 

Around the olive tree, hidden beneath the covering of bindweeds, are mattresses, broken chairs, shepherds' crooks, and old goat bells, the remains of past lives intertwined in a slow decay. The beauty of the garden is lost with the years of neglect and no one to appreciate it. 

Juliet reluctantly enlists casual labour. She has no desire to share her world with anyone. The boys have grown, Mick has gone. This is her time now.

Aaman has travelled to Greece from Pakistan illegally. His task is to find work and raise money for the harvester his village desperately needs to deliver them out of poverty. Poverty that is sending the younger generation to the cities, dividing families, and slowly destroying his community. 

What he imagined would be a heroic journey in reality is fraught with danger and corruption. He finds himself in Greece and follows the work, a little here, a little there. As time passes he loses his sense of self, he is now an immigrant worker, illegal, displaced, unwanted, with no value. Some days he does not have enough money to feed himself, let alone to return home to Pakistan.
In the village square, he waits for work, dawn not even broken.
Juliet hires Aaman.

Neither is entirely comfortable with their role. Juliet the Westerner, with money and a valid passport, even though she wants her garden clearing resents the intrusion. Aaman needs the work and money but resents the humiliation.

As the summer progresses, even though they are from vastly different backgrounds, cultures apart, they discover they have something in common, an event that has defined how they interact and even how they view themselves. Pieces of their lives they have kept hidden even from themselves are exposed. Each is the other's catalyst to facing their own ghosts.

My Review:

Initally, I wondered where this could be going. Then the tension started building and I had to wonder if it could possibly end up where it seemed to be headed. It just didn't seem right.

It's a love story isn't it? Yes. But not the usual type of love 
story. Not a romance. This is the love between a man and a woman who have conciously made the decision not to cross that line. They have a far richer relationship. Juliet and Aaman start out as two people caught up in their own struggles with no real understanding of the other person or their cultural differences. They start as boss and employee with one working for the other. They are at a distance. They learn to work together and to see things from each others perspective until they have a friendship and trust and an understanding of each other that goes deep. They have real love. It has been earned through long talks, hot tears and deep silences. They have faced betrayal, seperation, adversity, and danger. Seperately and together, they have overcome it all and each come to a better place emotionally and mentally.

And then it's over?

You need to read this book this summer. It's just about the perfect summer read. And I need to read at least the next book in the collection to see if this is typical for this author. If it is, she needs to go to the top of my preferred authors list.
The Illegal Gardener

The next two books in the collection are:

28118864                   29685545
Saving Septic Cyril is actually #16 in the collection, but it is the reappearance of Aaman from The Illegal Gardener.

I purchased this book on BookBub, the review is fully my own opinion.


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