The Illegal Gardener by Sara Alexi is a story about love and friendship and of opening your heart in ways you may not have thought possible. It is the first in The Greek Village series and the books focus on someone different in each book so it would be easy enough to read them in any order but I’ve already got the second one in my clutches and ready to go. LOL. I listened to the audiobook of The Illegal Gardener which is narrated by Suzanne Heathcote and she does an amazing job with this story. She made me feel as though I was right there in that small Greek village experiencing all the sights, sounds, and food. I just loved it in audio!
Juliet is at a crossroads in her life. Depressed after a divorce she decides on impulse to sell her home in England and move herself into a dilapidated farmhouse in a small Greek village leaving everything else behind. Her sons think her a bit crazy but she’s ok with that. She is able to live in the house and slowly work on restoring it but she finds the outside work, particularly the garden, too much for her to handle on her own. Yet she wants to restore the garden to the former beauty she knows is lurking underneath all the stuff that has just been thrown out there over the years. Despite not being entirely comfortable with hiring casual laborers she sets out to do just that and meets Aaman. Aaman is in Greece illegally having come from Pakistan. He has come to find work and earn enough money to take home to his wife and other villagers so that they can buy the harvester that they desperately need. This harvester will hopefully enable them to escape the clutches of poverty they are in. He is happy for the work that Juliet offers him.
While this may seem straight forward it is anything but that. At first Juliet is uncomfortable having Aaman there and she really doesn’t know how to act around him. Certain things she does out of politeness don’t seem to be received all that well. For Aaman he feels out of his depth. He isn’t used to this country or its ways and many of the things that Juliet does only serve to make him feel more useless. As summer unfolds and the two spend more time with each other they begin to slowly learn and understand more about how the other feels. They discover they have more in common than they ever thought. More importantly they learn that friendship, even between two people who are very different both in culture and background, can blossom and flourish.
I loved this book and the audiobook is truly wonderful. If you are an audiobook listener be sure to add this one to your list and be taken away to a tiny Greek village and into the lives of two very wonderful characters. Highly recommended!