Title: Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart
Author: Carol Wall
Opening lines: ‘…I never liked getting my hands dirty…’
Blurb: A moving true story of a unique friendship between two people who had nothing-and ultimately everything-in common. Carol Wall was at a crossroads in her life. Her children had flown the nest, her beloved parents were ageing and becoming increasingly reliant on her and she had overcome a serious illness. Her neglected garden was the least of her worries. Until one day she notices an African man tending her neighbour’s yard. His name is Giles Owita. He comes from Kenya. And he’s very good at gardening. Before long Giles is transforming not only Carol’s neglected garden, but her life. Although they appear to have nothing in common, a powerful bond grows between them. But both hold long-buried secrets that will change their friendship forever. This is the story of a woman who at mid-life finds there is so much more to learn and a man whose grace in facing life’s challenges is a lesson for us all.
My thoughts: MISTER OWITA’S GUIDE TO GARDENING is a true story. Carol Wall was a woman who was too scared to live her life to the fullest as she had a potential death sentence hanging over her head. As a very young child she was subjected to a high dose of radiation which meant that she would always have to aware there would be the possibility of cancerous tumours in later life. As MISTER OWITA’S GUIDE TO GARDENING opens Carol has recovered from a battle with breast cancer, but has not recovered all her happiness. Her garden is very much neglected, just hanging on unloved and untended other than the grass being mowed occasionally; it is all just too hard to deal with. Then she meets Giles Owita an immigrant from Kenya and hires him to tend her garden after she sees what miracles he has worked on a neighbour’s yard. From day one he has set ideas on what needs to be done and while he listens patiently to her instructions he goes and does precisely what he wants. The memoir goes on to concentrate on their growing platonic friendship and its effect on family, friendship, loneliness, love, sorrow, grief, faith, hope and happiness.
I could not put this book down, I fell in love with Carol and Giles from the very first few pages and loved them even more by the end. The garden is just the place where lessons are learned, because in reality MISTER OWITA’S GUIDE TO GARDENING is a story of the relationships that we develop with other people and the way that those relationships can impact on our lives and the lives of people connected to us. An utterly worthy read that is uplifting despite the dramas that occur. It is not a fast read; MISTER OWITA’S GUIDE TO GARDENING is a book that you immerse yourself in and if you take on board the very profound truths that Carol and Giles learn as they face life threatening diseases then the book is life-changing. Carol eventually learns that she can find joy in the present, and let the future stay in the future:
“…I let my head fall back, startled by the very notion of laughter flying from my deepest heart. Joy was an emotion I had never associated with cancer. Yet Giles seemed to find joy in all of life’s experiences…”
MISTER OWITA’S GUIDE TO GARDENING is not a book about religious faith, although Giles and Carol both share a faith and he also teaches her about Kenyan beliefs, the book does nourish the soul and give hope. Carol Wall was open, precise and totally honest as she shared the lessons that she learned from her good friend Giles. It is a book that stayed with me long after I read the last page. As a result I would heartily recommend that you read this book, and see how you can apply Mr Owita’s wisdom and strength to your own life.
Rating: A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.
For more about the author – Click Here
With thanks to Random House Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review