‘Gardening’ by Rachel Howard

Story Title: ‘Gardening’ by Rachel Howard
Collection/Anthology?: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 3 (Bristol Review of Books Ltd.)
Date Read: 07 August 2010
Briefly: A woman discovers that an old Eastern European woman called Elena, has taken up residence in her overgrown garden.
Afterthoughts: Aside from the fact that I read this story while sitting on the stairs inside the Edinburgh branch of H&M, I found the whole reading experience for this one to be somewhat surreal, yet at the same time wholly warming. Here is an old woman who suddenly turns up out of nowhere, in the middle of another woman’s garden, and a relationship begins to form. And it is Shieffield-born Rachel Howard’s treatment of that developing relationship between the two women, that is this story’s absolute triumph. You know a story really succeeds when it’s able to suck you in and make you forget about your surroundings. And while I was reading this story I very much forgot that I was sitting there, in the middle of a throbbing clothing store. In fact at one point I’m sure I even brushed an imaginary leaf away from my face, which I think speaks volumes. A great story then, and well worthy of it’s third place placing in this year’s Bristol Short Story Prize!

Rating: ★★★★☆

This story was read as part of a review of the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology, Volume 3. If you want to find out more about this anthology then I invite you to head on over and read my ‘forethoughts’ post, and/or visit the the Bristol Short Story Prize website.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).