Book Review: Meanwhile Gardens

By Tristan Hazell 

 Charles Caseltons Meanwhile Gardens  review by Tristan Hazell

One sometimes finds strange things in familiar places, or familiar things in strange places; Charles Caseltons Meanwhile Gardens manages to do both.

In reality Meanwhile Gardens is a plot of land in the shadow of the Trellik tower, adjacent to the Regents Canal. The goldborne road helpfully points to it. It is the kind of place (the name helps too) to sit, watch and wait for stuff to happen; Frequently in life stuff tends to happen elsewhere. Meanwhile in Caseltons novel  is all go.

Marion, the central character, escaping a life she would rather do without and hoping to find some answers, arrives in the neighbourhood; more specifically the cemetry further down the canal. So begins a rough and tumble adventure in North Kensington, an adventure that is larded with wonderful characters in an almost fairy tale world. Surrounded by a 'rag tag' family of strangers she sets about a quest of sorts. Naturally there are highs and lows, there are some great villains too. Tragedy strikes and she must somehow pull through. Of course we must not lose faith.

Caseltons West 11 is not quite as it should be there is the air of a circus to it. There is a lightness of touch to the writing and I get the sense that here is a storyteller who knows his subject (and his manor) well.

Meanwhile Gardens was originally published in blog form. Nothing wrong with that; if Dickens were alive today he would be doing the same, he'd probably nick a few of caseltons characters to boot. There is however a greater sense of pleasure to be gained from holding and digesting a slab of book! 

I'm off to Meanwhile Gardens to wait for stuff to happen...

And before you accuse me of plugging a friends book, I bought my copy, happy I did, which allows me to speak my mind.  It is available in all good book shops.

This article was first published in Tristan Hazell's blog Pre-Pentimento
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