Swann in love in the garden A beloved childhood story inspired E.L. Swann to write her adult homage to The Secret Garden. Night Gardening (Hyperion, $16.95, 0786864982) is a lushly drawn love story as luminous as white flowers under moonlight. The emotional lives of both landscape gardener Tristan Mallory and Maggie Flaherty Welles have lain fallow for decades. Tristan is building a pretentious garden for clients when he discovers Maggie through a breech in its brick wall. As Tristan helps Maggie restore her neglected gardens, Maggie draws upon her inner resources to overcome the ravages of a stroke. The intertwined restoration of Maggie's gardens and the growing love between these two late bloomers is at the heart of this alternately wrenching and witty love story.

E.L. Swann is the adult pseudonym of children's book author Kathryn Lasky, who, in a recent conversation with BookPage, observed wryly that she actually finds children's books more difficult to write. This, she says of Night Gardening, felt quite roomy to me. The ones that just kill me are picture books, where she notes each of 400 words must be precise. Swann says her own favorite garden is her shade garden in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where nodding onions, remind her of miniature swans swimming along with the breezes. In telling her story of the renewing power of love, Swann is drawn to Maggie's unbelievable wellspring of resources, her humor, the ability to walk around the whole family, see their flaws and yet never get dragged down. Night Gardening lives up to Swann's ambition: a unique, sensual landscape of human emotion that once glimpsed will entwine its way into your heart, not to be forgotten.

Sandy Huseby writes from her homes in Fargo, North Dakota, and Nevis, Minnesota. She is online at shuseby@aol.com.

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