The Gardener of Baghdad (2015) is set in modern-day Baghdad, Iraq.
Elderly Adnan is cleaning his bookstore, which his father started in 1944, and he finds a book, written in English. Inside the book is a locket. Inside the locket is a photograph of a woman. The book is the journal of Ali, the gardener of Baghdad, born in 1934 in Iraq. He writes about the sacrifices he made in the name of love.’ It ends abruptly in July 1958.
Orphaned at eleven years of age, Ali turns to farming and gardening for comfort and income. Ali’s diary tells of the first time he met Mary – a woman out of his league – and the challenges of their love. It also tells the story of the gold locket.
Adnan, intriqued by the Gardener of Baghdad’s diary, attempts to find out more abouot Ali. Is he still alive? What happened to him since the revolution of 1958? Does the next generation of his family live in Iraq?
This novel is a quick read with a simple, yet effective, story. It is a light romantic novel with a sense of nostalgia for a time and place that was once a more peaceful Baghdad, and the calming essence of nature to heal a hurt soul.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls