Book Review - Tales from Titchmarsh

Book cover of Tales from Titchmarsh by Alan  Titchmarsh

A very enjoyable collection of Alan's favourite column articles from the past 20 years of BBC Gardener's World magazine.

4 Stars

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-444-72864-4

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The latest offering from the Titchmarsh production line is a collection of regurgitated articles from his column in Gardeners World magazine. That is a harsh but true description, but in fact the book is a very enjoyable and pleasant read.

"Tales from Titchmarsh - A year in the garden" is split up into the 12 months of the year. Each month is represented by 7 of Alan's favourite articles from the month in question, extracted from his Gardeners' World column over the last 20 years. Each entry is 3 or 4 pages in length and at the end of each one the year that it appeared in "Gardeners' World" is stated.

The book gives a deep insight into Alan's life and career in horticulture and a glimpse into what life is like as a gardening superstar. I think Alan has that unique skill as an author where he just writes immediately what he is thinking, his opinion on the topic straight from the heart with no thought for what the reader might think. It's a skill that I admire, I tend to ponder and consider too much when I write.

You feel almost voyeuristic reading this book, I knew nothing about Alan's life and family when I started reading the book. I feel like I now know more than Alan's next door neighbours do about him. Amongst many other facts, I now know that Alan employs a Gardener (would you believe it), Mrs Titchmarsh makes wonderful home-made Florentines and I could also tell you the names of all the chickens that Alan owned in 1998.

The subtitle of the book "A year in the garden" is slightly misleading because it might suggest that the content within might always be relevant to the particular month. You need to remember that the articles were simply a record of what Alan was experiencing at the time, not necessarily horticulturally seasonal. Also take into account that the topics Alan writes about are not necessarily horticultural. Examples include his thoughts on a day out at Madam Tussaud's to be measured up for his own waxwork model. There are also recollections of moving house and opening his garden to the public to raise money for charity.

The book is very easy, relaxing reading and almost therapeutic if you have had a busy day at work. You subconsciously pick up expert horticultural knowledge and tips from Alan as you are read your way through and enjoy the book.

One chapter in the book is extremely personal and moving, straight from the heart. In his April 2007 entry, Alan talks about his Mum who had passed away a few months earlier. He talks about her 30 year battle with rheumatoid arthritis and her great influence on his life. "She was, like all mums, a bit special, and I count my blessings that she had the wisdom to let me follow her into the garden. I will always miss her".

Gardening Guru's Verdict

The book is a very enjoyable read. As the year begins to come to an end and the nights draw in, it's the perfect book to sit and read in front of the fire on a cold winter evening. If like me, your time for reading is a bit more limited, the concise entries are ideal for reading one at a time at bedtime just before you switch the light off.

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