Synopses & Reviews
In March 1941, Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in Englands River Ouse. Her body was found three weeks later. What seemed like a tragic ending at the time was, in fact, just the beginning of a mystery. . . .
Six decades after Virginia Woolfs death, landscape designer Jo Bellamy has come to Sissinghurst Castle for two reasons: to study the celebrated White Garden created by Woolfs lover Vita Sackville-West and to recover from the terrible wound of her grandfathers unexplained suicide. In the shadow of one of Englands most famous castles, Jo makes a shocking find: Woolfs last diary, its first entry dated the day after she allegedly killed herself.
If authenticated, Jos discovery could shatter everything historians believe about Woolfs final hours. But when the Woolf diary is suddenly stolen, Jos quest to uncover the truth will lead her on a perilous journey into the tumultuous inner life of a literary icon whose connection to the White Garden ultimately proved devastating.
Rich with historical detail, The White Garden is an enthralling novel of literary suspense that explores the many ways the past haunts the present-and the dark secrets that lurk beneath the surface of the most carefully tended garden.
"Barron, a pseudonym for thriller writer Francine Mathews, puts her talents for suspense to good use examining the death of Virginia Woolf from the vantage point of present-day England. The story begins when American Jo Bellamy sets out to study the White Garden at the estate of Virginia Woolf's lover, working for Long Island clients who want to recreate it. Her mission also has a personal component: figuring out why Jo's beloved grandfather, who worked at the garden as a youth, killed himself. After the head gardener passes Jo a journal he found in the tool shed, which may be Woolf's work, Jo embarks upon a wild tour of Woolf's old stomping grounds, tracking down answers and missing pages. While leaning on convenient stereotypes the headstrong but clueless American; the femme fatale (with eyes like 'liquid pools'); stuffy Brits Barron invests the text with a quick pace and an absorbing plot, making this a dynamic thriller with a well-tempered literary fixation." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In 1941, Virginia Woolf drowns herself. Only now is the truth about her death beginning to emerge. The bestselling author of acclaimed historical mystery novels unveils a startling tale about what lies beneath the surface.
About the Author
Stephanie Barron is the author of nine bestselling Jane Austen mysteries. She lives near Denver, Colorado.
Reading Group Guide
1. The White Garden
is about uncovering long-buried truths. Is this a noble cause, or do you believe that the past is not meant to be dug up?
2. Have you ever discovered something about your ancestors after their death?
3. Why do you think Jock hid his secret from even his wife and granddaughter?
4. Who do you think the journal ultimately “belongs” to?
5. Out of all authors, living and dead, whose journal would you most want to read and why?
6. Both Virginia and Jock take pains to write their stories down. What power do you think is given to writing words down?
7. Who in the book do you believe is responsible for Virginias death? Do various characters share responsibility?
8. Do you agree with Peter in his criticism of the idea that “writing is akin to madness”?
9. Does Jo ultimately fulfill her goal of learning more about her grandfather?
10. What do you think can be revealed about a person through how they tend a garden? What do we learn about Jock? About Vita? About Imogen?
11. Do you think Grayson truly loves Jo? Do you see parallels between how he treats Jo and how Leonard treated Virginia, per the way Margaux describes him?
12. Do you think being a part of the immensely talented Bloomsbury group contributed to Virginias death? Would Virginia have been healthier as an “outsider” artist? Was it a benefit or a detriment that Vanessa was also part of the same group?
13. To whom does the White Garden mean the most? What does it mean to that character?