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China Garden

China Garden

4.7 110
by Liz Berry

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When Clare moves with her mother from London to Ravensmere, an historic English estate, she can't shake the feeling that the residents already know her, especially Mark, a maddeningly attractive biker. Clare also feels compelled to take midnight walks in Ravensmere's abandoned China Garden. Then her mother reveals that their own past is tragically linked to the


When Clare moves with her mother from London to Ravensmere, an historic English estate, she can't shake the feeling that the residents already know her, especially Mark, a maddeningly attractive biker. Clare also feels compelled to take midnight walks in Ravensmere's abandoned China Garden. Then her mother reveals that their own past is tragically linked to the estate. But when Clare discovers that Ravensmere is in grave danger, will she risk her future-and Mark's-to save it?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like a jewel box with hidden drawers and compartments, this finely crafted, multilayered novel holds many secrets. Early on, events unfold at a leisurely pace at Ravensmere, an old English country estate where 17-year-old Clare intends to unwind for a few weeks before entering university. But questions and curiosities begin to accumulate, drawing the reader inexorably into a whirling mix of disparate, even outlandish elements-this is at once a ghost story, a romance and a coming-of-age drama, with psychic phenomena as well as historical and even ecological themes. In Berry's (Easy Connections) skilled hands, however, these motifs fall satisfyingly into place, piece by piece. The villagers seem to have anticipated Clare's arrival, and there is repeated, cryptic mention of the "Guardians" of the "Benison," an ancient treasure whose nature-the novel's deepest, most compelling secret-is not revealed until the final chapters. Only then does Clare learn the startling truth about her connection to Ravensmere and her strange, supernatural role in preserving its future. Berry builds a setting and atmosphere richly laden with mystery and suspense, in which the ordinary often masks unexpected interconnections and the extraordinary is natural to the story's wildly imagined terrain. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)
The ALAN Review - Susanne L. Johnston
Clare's plans to spend a busy summer in London before beginning her studies at the University are abruptly halted when the mother moves to Ravensmere, an English country estate, to care for the aging owner. Once there, Clare feels almost too comfortable, as if she has been there before. The people all seem to know her and have been expecting her, especially the dark young man named Mark. In Ravensmere's China Garden, Clare discovers her psychic powers and unlocks the mystery of her family history and her shared destiny with Mark. The China Garden is an intriguing book of British customs and legends woven into a modern tale of love and duty. Older readers will identify with the conflicts between a teen and her single mother, and the struggle to remain chaste in a loving relationship.
Children's Literature - Tim Whitney
When seventeen-year-old Clare Meredith moves from London to Ravensmere, a historic English estate, she looks forward to a well-deserved summer rest before entering university. Even though she has never been there before, she finds that the village residents seem to know her, and that she herself knows quite a bit about the village. Clare begins to have psychic visions and finds herself drawn to midnight walks in the abandoned China Garden. She becomes attracted to a rebellious biker named Mark, and quickly falls in love with him. As more secrets become revealed, her discoveries about Ravensmere's past affect her future and Mark's. An excellent mystery, with a romance that young girls will appreciate.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-This unusual book is a fantasy, a romance, a mystery, a tale of family feuds, and a coming-of-age story all rolled into one. Clare Meredith, 17 and waiting to hear the results of her school exams, goes with her widowed mother to Ravensmere, an ancient English estate, where she's oddly attracted to a handsome biker. Clare makes friends and enemies; sees visions; learns of past Ravensmere women and of her previously unknown connection to the area; and rethinks her plans for the future. All of this is intertwined with legends of a magical Benison and its two Guardians. Ordinary teens will find The China Garden overwhelming, if not incomprehensible. It is very British, full of unfamiliar words and phrases. It is laden with historical, mythological, architectural, and religious references that would baffle many adults. There are also two annoying narrative breaks. However, Berry's novel is a rich, involving read for those select few who are highly literate and enjoy long, detailed romantic fantasies.-Ann W. Moore, Guilderland Public Library, NY

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.00(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Dark of die moon. Near dawn. Starlight shimmered along the dragon walls. Nothing stirred in the China Garden. No breeze. No night sound. The only waking creature was a tortoiseshell cat sitting on the step of the First Moon Gate like a creature from a pharaoh's tomb, watching and waiting.

It was many years since anyone had walked here, but now the grass was bending in the still air. Invisible feet were pawing to and fro, leaving a winding track.

There was a drift of sound, ancient pipe music, then a strange shifting, something coming alive, and a whisper, like a breath, moving through the shadows, "She's coming ... She's coming..."

On the great hill that rose above the Garden, a tall figure detached itself from the darkness of the ancient standing stone. The starlight gleamed on the wide shoulders of his leather jacket, as he stretched, stiff from his long wait. Sometimes it seemed he had been waiting for her for ever, but now at last he knew she was coming. He stared down at the darkened house. There was a light burning in a big window overlooking the terrace. Was the old man waiting too?

The clock clicked onto the hour loudly.

"Stop. Put down your pens now."

There was a muffled groan from the students.

Clare Meredith leaned back, added a final comma to the sheets she had been reading, checked her name and clipped them together. Finished. Her last A-level paper. All over at last.

She could hear Sara behind her, muttering to herself and dropping her papers on the floor.

No more worry, panic and effort. So why was this ball of anxiety and tension in her chest getting bigger all the time, as though something unpleasantwas about to happen?

"You all right, Clare? You look a bit odd." Sara tucked her arm through Clare's as they left the room.

"I'm fine." Impossible to explain this eerie feeling even to Sara.

"Listen--I've got plans for us this summer! Come on, I'll stand you a coffee and a burger. Let's live it up!"

"You're late, Clare. Where on earth have you been?"

Clare's fingers tightened on her house key, She glanced at the hall clock. "It's not half-five yet!"

"I've been waiting for you to get home. I've got to talk to you."

"We all went to McDonald's."

"With dear Adrian, I suppose."

"With Sara, actually."

Her mother's taut shoulders relaxed.

"Oh, Clare, I'm sorry. I forgot you had another exam today."

"The last one. We were celebrating."

"How did it go?"

"Okay," Clare said, shortly. "AH topics I'd revised." She threw her book bag, strangely light now, into its usual comer by the front door, for the last time. She felt flattened, still hardly able to take it in.

"I can't believe it's finished."

"When will you get the results?"

"August sometime." Not quite out of the woods yet, she reminded herself. Not enough to pass. She needed three good grades for university.

She watched her mother in the hall mirror. Frances was getting ready for work, stabbing pins nervously into her dark gold french pleat to go under her Ward Sister's cap.

"Well, it's done now, thank goodness," Frances said. "It's been a strain on both of us. You've been hard to live with, Clare."

"I know. I'm sorry." But it came out too stiffly. They both knew that the tension of the exams was only part of the trouble between diem. There was her choice of career. And there was Adrian.

Until she had started to date Adrian they had always got on well together-joking, sharing, talking things over. They went shopping, poking about for bargains in the street markets, having a Chinese meal, wandering around the London museums on Sunday afternoons. They hadn't done that for a long time, Clare thought, with a sense of loss.

And it wasn't all on her side. Lately her mother had been unreasonably irritable and tense.

She said, embarrassed, "I ... er ... wanted to say thanks for everything. Letting me stay on into sixth-form college. Giving me a chance at university. I really do appreciate all you're doing for me. I wish you didn't have to work all the extra hours."

Frances looked at her in the mirror. "I haven't got anybody else, Clare. And, besides, you're worth it. You haven't wasted your chances, or taken them for granted. You've worked really hard."

Her mother was a good-looking woman, Clare thought. No, be honest. She was beautiful. High cheek bones, pale translucent skin. But there was something strange about her face that sometimes had people turning round in the street to take a second look.

They stood shoulder to shoulder staring into the mirror, feeling closer than they had for weeks. Clare was the same height as her mother, but she favoured her father's family. She had a mass of wiry black hair which she tamed by plaiting it back tightly from the crown of her head.

This afternoon, though, as they stood in a shaft of sunlight from the small window next to the front door, Clare was suddenly struck by their likeness. It's our eyes, she thought. Wide and silvery, tilting slightly upwards.

Her mother laughed aloud. "We're alike, Clare. Something weird about us. Look at those strange witchy eyes! You know they'd have burned both of us five hundred years ago."

Clare was not surprised Frances had picked up her own thought. Telepathy. It happened so frequently it wasn't worth mentioning.

Frances had stopped laughing and was staring into her own eyes in the mirror. The closed, shuttered look came over her face, her heavy eyelids drooped.

"Perhaps they would have been right."Clare felt a cold shiver run down her back. What was she seeing? Her mother's strange psychic ability disturbed and worried her. Although Frances rarely spoke of it, it was always there, ever present, a dimension of her mother's personality that Clare preferred not to think about. The China Garden. Copyright © by Liz Berry. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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China Garden 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 108 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There were times when I couldn't put this book down. Its mix of romance, suspense, and adventure are like none other. One of my favorites.
Daisy_Moon More than 1 year ago
Still one of my all-time favorites! Wish there was a series!
PanolaJD More than 1 year ago
'Remember, I tried to stop you. Don't blame me. Remember I tried to warn you.' Clare is chilled by her mother's warnings to stay away from Ravensmere, the large country house where her mother has taken a private nursing job. But Clare knows she has to go there - it is not a choice but a compulsion. And she only intends to stay a few weeks, anyway, just until she goes to university in the autumn. Ravensmere is a strange, enchanting place, but she grows increasingly disturbed. How come the local villagers appear to know her? Why is she having these odd visions? And who is the attractive, leather-clad stranger who is watching her? What is the power of the Benison and why must she visit the China Garden in the middle of the night? Ravensmere casts a magical spell over Clare, drawing her into a mystery that stretches back over thousands of years. She knows that Ravensmere and the valley are in danger and that time is running out - but will she risk her future to save it? The China Garden is a haunting novel of an ancient legend, family secrets and young love. A heady mixture of romance and mystery. Basic Summary = Clare, moves out to the country to Ravensmere and leaves London and Adrian, her controlling boyfriend behind. There, she meets Mark, and falls in love with him and begins to discover the secrets behind the saying . . . Guard Ravensmere well Its stones and hollows, Health and prosperity Always doth follow. Let Ravensmere die, Let the land be torn open, The end of the world Is surely betokened. It's a remarkably likable plot full of myth, history, mystery and a little romance. Wasn't too thrilled with the ending since it got a little too Sci-Fi'ish for my taste. The beginning was brilliant though. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of the hidden English estate, an ancient family secret, and the cryptic way the superstitious villagers just "knew" Clare was coming to Ravensmere. I found the whole unraveling of the mother's dark past fascinating as well. Yet, I sadly found myself skipping whole pages to jump ahead in the story. It didn't capture my attention and basically the book had too many sections that just . . . dragged along and then at the end, the story picks up WAY too quickly. Likes: The mythical vibe the countryside created. Dislikes: The love story seemed a bit too far fetched/shallow and the fact that Clare and Mark are really cousins . . . um, ew! Too taboo to overlook that one!
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Bronte91 More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fantasy book mixed with a little mystery and drama
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