In March 1941, Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in England’s 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 Woolf’s death, landscape designer Jo Bellamy has come to Sissinghurst Castle for two reasons: to study the celebrated White Garden created by Woolf’s lover Vita Sackville-West and to recover from the terrible wound of her grandfather’s unexplained suicide. In the shadow of one of England’s most famous castles, Jo makes a shocking find: Woolf’s last diary, its first entry dated the day after she allegedly killed herself.
If authenticated, Jo’s discovery could shatter everything historians believe about Woolf’s final hours. But when the Woolf diary is suddenly stolen, Jo’s 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.