By Philip Beard
Lost in the Garden is a fictional biography written by Michael Benedict, self-proclaimed under achiever. Born into a wealthy family, he goes to law school then works the least possible billable hours to maintain his place in a law firm.
He is married with two daughters, both of whom he adores. Michael and his wife lost a third child and neither of them seem to be coping with the loss, but have settled into a comfortable routine as a family. The girls are in school, leaving more free time for Michael and his wife Kelly to rekindle the romance of their younger days.
Unfortunately, Michael decided he wants to become a pro golfer. Kelly scoffs at the idea because he just isn’t that great of a golfer despite spending most, if not all of his free time at the expensive country club he has grown up in. When Kelly tells him she is pregnant – an absolute surprise to both of them – the couple drifts further apart instead of becoming closer.
I wanted to slap Michael, tell him to put on his big boy boxers and stop whining. Beard is a master of making his characters, both lovable and downright annoying, come alive on the page. It takes a brave or crazy writer to make his main character unlikable. Most could not pull it off. That is not the case with Lost in the Garden. The fact that Michael made awful choices then rationalized them really worked in this book. Maybe men would be able to identify more with him as he hits his mid-life crisis, but women will still like this book. I loved it.
The subplots with his minor characters are just as compelling as the main story, sometimes taking it over for a chapter. The smooth transition back and forth between story lines makes Beard a master storyteller. He gets into the heads of all of his characters, no matter how big or small of a part they play overall. No one is glossed over, which ads a layer of depth not often found in a book that is so readable. I often thought about parts after I’d read them with “ah ha!” moments connecting why one character or the other acted the way they did.
Beard is one of my favorite new authors. He has written three stand alone novels, Dear Zoe is his first, Lost in the Garden is his second and Swing is his latest. They are all different subjects and characters, but all of them are deeply complicated, yet read like the latest best seller. I defy you to put one of his books aside without it calling you back to see what is going to happen next. I am honestly shocked that everyone who reads doesn’t have at least one of his books on their shelf. The only reason I don’t right now is I’ve loaned my copies out to friends, who then have loaned them out to friends….if you love a book or an author, share them!
In case you can’t decide which one to read first, here are the links to my reviews of his other novels: