The Lost Garden, A Review

The Lost Garden, A Review

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Change is inevitable. We all change. The changes made from childhood to adulthood are countless. Even as adults, some people drastically change from year to year. Some change for the better, and some change for the worse. While working as a Land Girl, there is no question that The Lost Garden's Gwen Davis changed for the better. From the beginning of her journey to Mosel until the end of the story, Gwen steps away from what is familiar to her, and while doing so, changes the view of herself and displays courage; she also changes her view of other people and learns how to connect with them, finding a belonging in the world.

As she departs from the comfortable world in which she is familiar with, Gwen Davis steps into an unknown, unfamiliar world. Previously, Gwen had been alone working at the Royal Horicultural Society for many years and was used to being by herself. She thinks after feeling uncomfortable around others at Mosel, "I liked my job at the Royal Horticulural Society because I had such autonomy. It was just me and the parsnips...But I was left alone there. I did not have to fuss with people, only parsnips," (26). She says that she enjoyed her job because she was alone, but she longed for someone to talk to and longed for acceptance; longed for love. As she leaves the familiar streets that she has grown to love, she also leaves behind her unidentified longing for more in life and begins her journey into seeing herself as capable and fulfills that longing.

Being alone all those years has contributed to Gwen's pessimistic views of herself. As she sits in a carriage on her way to Mosel, Gwen thinks, "This is all I have--a carriage full of strangers, a landscape disarmingly lush and unfamiliar, memories that bring no comfort," (11). Not having a companion or company to talk to can only build one's thoughts of themselves negatively. Because Gwen only has her own discouraging thoughts, she makes herself believe that she wants to be alone and she is not good enough to have a companion. When she is with Jane she says that she is not worthy of Jane's attention.

Gwen also does not describe herself as an attractive person. She consistently refers to herself as "plain" or "unattractive." Gwen's mother helped contributed to Gwen's poor opinion of herself. Gwen thinks, "My mother was beautiful.

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I was always plain. `How could I have produced such a creature?' she said more than once. Some days she locked me outside because she couldn't bear to look at me," (119). It seems as though Gwen is greatly influenced by what her mother has said in the past. Her mother constantly insulted her as a child and Gwen believed the insults. After Gwen finds out that she has the dates wrong and came to Mosel a week late, she remembers what her mother used to say to her. She reflects regarding her mother, "`Why are you such an idiot?' my mother used to say to me when I'd failed to grasp some adult nuance..." then stating, "I had wanted to be useful and liked for what I knew. Now I had ruined my chances before I'd even begun...I almost started to cry. `Idiot,' I say instead. `You're such an idiot," (38). Gwen believed her mother when she called her an "idiot" and took that belief into her adulthood. Having these feeling and thoughts that her mother brought upon her, Gwen is also very insecure when she first arrives at Mosel.

Gwen uses the fact that she has been alone for so long as an excuse for not being very social. She thinks that she is "not good with people. I've been too isolated most of my life," (65). She longs for people to love her, or even like her, from the very beginning of the story, but because she is insecure she feels unable to interact. She thinks, "It is almost time for dinner and I am afraid to go. I have never been good at dealing with people. I much prefer to work alone," (25). She feels ostracized by the other Land Girls and continually states that she is not good at dealing with people. She believes others to pity her and holds back her thoughts because she is afraid of what others may think of her. When she does speak or say her thought she feels embarrassed by what she has said. When talking to Raley she says, "I'm always saying the wrong thing. I've spent too long working alone in a laboratory," (42). Again, Gwen uses her "having spent too much time alone" as an excuse for her insecurity.

Because Gwen is originally insecure and has a pessimistic view, she also views other people cynically. She tends to judge people by her first impressions of them. During her first encounter with Raley she determines that "he is very handsome and he knows it." He is also very polite to her and she is weary of how genuine he is. She later says, "My first instincts are not to trust him, and to treat his politeness and courtesy as suspicious," (77). She also assumes that all the Land Girls do not like her, and so she poorly judges them as well. While naming the girls after potatoes, Gwen has unkind comments about the girls. She says that she "can't be bothered to know their real names." She refers to two of the girls as seeming the least amenable, and who have a potential for disobedience. She is not certain of these judgments; she is merely basing her discrimination on her first impressions. She also says that she is not one to confide in people, and she doesn't even like most people. She says, "But perhaps some of why I don't like people is that I think they don't like me," (49). Therefore, her judgments are a means of protection. She does not want to get hurt by people so she puts up a wall so people are unable to get close to her and "judge" her.

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