The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

by HRevvdon@evpl on Sunday, April 19 2009, 1:53pm. Viewed 877 times.

The Bone Garden (2008) by Tess Gerritsen is an almost gothic novel of suspense, romance, medicine, poor Irish Immigrants, and Boston's wealthy.

Recently divorced Julia buys an old house just outside of Boston and begins restoration of the house and the garden.  While working in the garden she unearths the skeleton of a woman buried there nearly 200 years before.  In her quest to find out who the skeleton may belong to Julia contacts a relative of the old woman who had built and lived in the house before her.  Through letters written by Oliver Wendell Holmes they trace the story of Rose Connelly and Norris Marshall.  Though the letters are fiction, Holmes is not - he was a prominent surgeon in the mid-eighteen hundreds.  He revolutionized the medical field by convincing doctors that they must wash their hands, an uncommon practice at the times.  Holmes son was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. the legendary Supreme Court Justice.

The book tells two tales, one in the present with Julia and one in the 1800's with Rose, Norris, Holmes and a cast of clandestine characters and rich society.  The latter is much more the dominant and more interesting.  Rose's sister dies in childbirth and immediately there are people trying to steal the baby from Rose.  Rose hides the baby and protects it.  Norris is a medical student, a poor farm boy that does not fit in with his rich society fellow students - and he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder because of it.  Rose and Norris fall in love as the story moves on.  Norris is soon believed to be the West End Reaper (very Jack-the-Ripper) and the people that are being killed are all linked to Rose and the baby.

The medical/surgery scenes are fascinating, the descriptions of 1830's Boston are good, and the story is entertaining.  However, there is much too much going on in this novel and the loose ends are not very believably tied together in the end. The present time story was not developed fully and I think would have been better with more introduction of the text of the letters.  The historical story line was much better but the ending was disappointing.

Yes, you do find out who the skeleton is, but not until the very end when you have pretty much forgotten there was a skeleton in the first place.  Regretfully, the knowledge of who the skeleton is was predictable and added very little to the story.

Comments (2)

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smd1 wrote
on Sunday, June 14 2009, 5:01pm

Tess Gerritsen is an excellent writer keeping the reading waiting for the next chapter.  A very interesting story that switches back and forth from 200 years ago to today.  Didn't want to stop reading until the end.

smd1 wrote
on Sunday, June 14 2009, 5:03pm

Tess Gerritsen is an excellent writer keeping the reader waiting for the next chapter.  This book goes back and forth from 200 years ago to today.  Very interesting and intriguing.  I really enjoyed it.