Monday, April 25, 2011

The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72 by Molly Peacock

Title: The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72
Author: Molly Peacock

Genre: Non-Fiction (Memoir/Biography)
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury USA (3/29/11)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved -- another that will make my top 10 in 2011!
Did I finish?: Yes -- and I'm ready for a reread already!

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- especially as it features one of Mrs. Delaney's 'mosaiks'. 

First line: Imagine starting your life's work at seventy-two.

Did... I walk into work every morning in raptures over this book?: YES.  My commute definitely wasn't long enough.

Did... I fall in love with Molly Peacock's writing style from the first page?: YES.  It's warm and funny, smart and interesting.  See my teaser for a taste!

Is... this book totally awesome to hold?: YES.  The hand-feel of the book is divine -- it's a compact, little hardcover that's easy to carry and tuck into a bag, with gorgeous smooth pages and divine full-color plates.  It sent me into paroxysms of pleasure when it first arrived.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy.  You'll want to own this book, seriously.  I bought it for my mother, an aspiring artisan herself, for Mother's Day, because I thought she might find it as inspiring and moving as I did.

Why did I get this book?: I love a good biography and the setting -- 18th century -- and focus -- Mary Granville Delaney -- interested me.

Review: This marvelous book is a mix of biography and memoir, written in a beautiful, inviting style that feels as if the author is having coffee with you and sharing her latest research.  Molly Peacock is a poet who conveys Mary Granville Delaney's life in lovely, lyrical detail that is educational and enjoyable. 

It helps that Mary Delaney's life is captivating: in addition to being a talented artist, she was great friends with many luminaries of her day, and her eighty-eight years encompassed some incredibly exciting historical events.  There are some nearly Gothic twists that would have seemed unbelievable were this not based on fact and from the first chapter I was enamored of Mary Delaney.

Those who want a 'traditional' style biography (one that doesn't hint at the researcher/writer behind the pages) will probably be shocked by this one: Molly Peacock emerges on the pages to share her own thoughts about her research, about Mrs. Delaney, and snippets of her own life.  I found it delicious and seamless; like Ms Peacock, my reading usually says something about where I am in my own life and the challenges I'm working through, and it was inspiring, refreshing, and moving to read about how her research overlapped, influenced, and affected her life.

This biography was so compelling, and Mrs Delaney felt so real to me, I teared at the end; I, like Mrs. Delaney's friends, wasn't ready for her to pass away.  Finishing was a bittersweet experience!  I already miss Mrs. Delaney and Molly Peacock's beautiful observations on life, love, creative endeavors, hope, and finding one's true self.  

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!  I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Paper Garden for giveaway!  Please leave your email address in the comments to win.  Giveaway closes 5/13, US/CA only.  Be sure to return on Wednesday for a guest post from Molly Peacock and another chance to win.


  1. I have been reading some great things about this book, which is interesting because I had never heard it mentioned before a couple of weeks ago. It does sound truly amazing though, and I am glad that you enjoyed it so very much. I am also impressed that you are probably going to be adding this one to your best of list. I would love the chance to be entered in your giveaway as well, and thanks for hosting it!


  2. This sounds really good! Thanks for considering me!


  3. Sounds like an amazing book! Thanks for the opportunity!

    pocokat AT gmail DOT com

  4. Wow, I probably never would have thought twice about this book if I hadn't read your review. This sounds fantastic, and I'd love to be entered!

    diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

  5. Like you said, you read books that reflect where you are in life and right now this book looks very interesting to me!

  6. Thanks for this wonderful review. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

  8. What a beautiful review!! I love your enthusiasm and the way you set this up. Thank you so much for being on the tour, and I'm really excited for the guest post!

  9. Thank you! Some of my friends are already raving about this book!

    teabird17 at yahoo dot. com

  10. Lovely review! Found & following you through Sarcastic Feminist Literary blog!

  11. Sounds like a great read. I love the premise of starting your life's work at 72. It gives you such hope for all the things that are still possible in life. It's never too late! Thanks for stopping by my blog and following. It's great to find your blog and I'm a new folower. Yes, please sign me up for the giveaway.

    juls840 at yahoo dot com

  12. I admit I was initially attracted by the beautiful cover of this book, I just love it. I hoped that hinted at a terrific story inside. It sopunds to me like my hopes are coming true!

    Mary Delaney sounds like a fascinating woman and I'm interested to read about her life. I like the fact that Molly Peacock puts herself on the pages of the book. It makes me feel as if I am there with her discovering Mary Delaney's life!

    Thank you for a wonderful review and an opportunity to win this book!

  13. It sounds like you really liked it! Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  14. Sounds like a great read.


  15. Sounds great :)


  16. Sounds like a nice and interesting read...would love to win it...


  17. thanks for the opportunity to read this book :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  18. I'm not entering your give-away, just dropping by to say how much I enjoyed the book along with you. It was so fascinating to read about a true life artist, especially who began her art at 72! It was so inspiring to read of her life, as well as Molly's, interspersed together. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

  19. I love biographies and memoirs both but
    I really love her flower pictures, they are so gorgeous. Please enter me in this giveaway.