‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ by Kathryn Hitchins

‘Plants watered too regularly have shallow roots, Ava-Claire.  A short dry spell will force them to push deeper…  A little adversity brings resilience,” so says the famous horticulturalist, Theo Gage.

Ava is Theo’s daughter and, despite what he says about his plants, Theo has cleared the troubles from Ava’s path and watered her with his love throughout her twenty years.  Although her mother died when she was a baby, Ava has been nurtured by Theo himself, by Paloma (your carer), by your Godfather, Colin Hildreth, even by Marcus (Theo’s business partner).  Then one day, after a trivial argument with Marcus, Ava finds out that Theo is not her natural father and her whole life discombobulates.

Ava seeks the help of private investigator, Zavier Marshall, to find out about her real father. She spirals downwards, stealing money and stashing it away in insecure places.  In the attempt to find out more about her mother, she joins the staff, as a cleaner, at her mother’s former employer, Fun World Holiday Camp, a seedy place where staff are worked to the bone and paid very little, and the security guard is demanding protection money, but, as Zavier comes to realise, it’s worst than that.  This is a thriller, with a strong storyline, lurching from incident to incident.  At first, it’s about Ava trying to find out what she needs to know for herself, but, as the story progresses, it becomes about Ava and Zavier trying to work things through together.

Instant Apostle is, of course, a Christian publishing company, but nowhere is God mentioned.  (This is not uncommon in Instant Apostle books.  The religious hand is normally very light.)   The Gardener’s Daughter is a clever reworking of the parable of The Prodigal Son and the conclusions drawn at the end, by Ava, reflect Christian teaching on love and redemption, but applied to the storyline, not as a sermon.

The Gardener’s Daughter can be purchased from Instant Apostle.

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