The Devil’s Garden opens with postmaster Will Dale receiving notice that he’s been suspended for a trivial incident that the local MP used as an example of the officiousness of civil servants.
Will’s wife, Mavis, and Will’s temporary replacement, Mr. Ridgett, suspect Will won’t present himself well at his suspension hearing.
Will thinks Mavis frets unnecessarily, and he suspects Ridgett of interest in Mavis.
Mavis, however, is right to fret.
If it were not for the intercession of Mr. Barradine, an ex-Cabinet Minister in whose house Mavis worked when Will met her, Will would have lost his job.
Before Will can resume his duties, Mr. Barradine is dead and the Dales are occupying separate bedrooms.
The narrative pushes forward relentlessly. Readers can guess at what happened, but have to wait for Will to tell how it happened and why he did what he did.
W. B. Maxwell’s characters are finely delineated and realistically colored. Will and Mavis feel like people you’ve met at one time or another.
Will is a loving husband, helpful neighbor, hard-working employee. His joining the chapel contains a believable mix of business acumen, faith, and doubt that makes the typical religious novel feel hokey.
The Devil’s Garden
The Devil playeth in a man’s mind like a
wanton child in a garden, bringing his filth
to choke each open path, uprooting the
tender plants, and trampling the buds that
should have blown for the Master.
by W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell
Project Gutenberg ebook #14605
1914 bestseller #9
My grade: B+
Photo credit: Postoffice By PeterD
© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni