Title: Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates a Conservatory Garden
Author: Ruth Kassinger
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5
Ruth Kassinger never had a talent for growing plants. One day, though, she decides she wants to build a conservatory on the back of her Maryland home. She imagines the beauty and peace such a place would provide, plus learning about gardening and growing plants is a new hobby for her to undertake. Eager to learn all she can about conservatories, Kassinger delves into research as she begins to plan her own conservatory.
I love memoirs about accomplishing something that are mixed with history and lots of information, so Paradise Under Glass seemed like a perfect fit for me. However, the premise made me hesitate – I thought the author seemed a little impulsive, going from knowing nothing about plants to wanting to build a conservatory and fill it with plants, not a small expense. I wasn’t sure how this would be handled in the book, and whether it would seem a bit silly.
I’m happy to say that it didn’t seem nearly as strange as it sounds. Kassinger is definitely a bit impulsive, but in a good way. She does take the the idea of a conservatory very quickly, but she sticks with it, as evidenced by the length of the book. Once the idea is formed in her mind, she is determined to make it work. I appreciated how set she was, especially because her conservatory presented her with all sorts of unforeseen complications.
Interspersed with her memoir, Kassinger gives a good overview of the history of conservatories in her book. Each chapter tackles a different plant or an unexpected challenge, and Kassinger researches each to give the reader a solid background on whatever she is doing. Whether it’s the history of ferns when she visits a fern conservatory or researching pesticides when unwanted visitors invade her plants, this book is full of interesting information. I didn’t know much about plants and gardens when I started Paradise Under Glass, so I really appreciated the time and effort Kassinger put into educating her readers.
I really enjoyed Paradise Under Glass. It was well-written, easy to read, and Kassinger’s voice was very warm and welcoming. I learned a lot and enjoyed the process very much. It was the best kind of memoir – personal, yet full enough of other information so as not to be self-indulgent. I definitely recommend the book for any memoir or gardening fans!