Lost in the Garden

Lost in the Garden

4.3 3
by Philip Beard

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From the author of Dear Zoe, a wry novel of suburban life unraveled

Michael Benedict, overprivileged but undermotivated, seems to have it all: a beautiful wife, two lovely daughters, a law practice that provides a comfortable life for his family, and a natural golf swing. Can it all unravel in a few short months?

As he did in his debut,

…  See more details below


From the author of Dear Zoe, a wry novel of suburban life unraveled

Michael Benedict, overprivileged but undermotivated, seems to have it all: a beautiful wife, two lovely daughters, a law practice that provides a comfortable life for his family, and a natural golf swing. Can it all unravel in a few short months?

As he did in his debut, Dear Zoe, Philip Beard has created a pitch-perfect narrator who ruefully and winningly pulls the reader into the confusing world that is his life. When his wife announces she's pregnant, at age forty, with a “surprise” baby, Michael's underwhelming response disturbs the fault lines of both his marriage and his psyche. He tries to find solace in his obsessions: his golf game, his newfound luck in the stock market, and, since his wife has cut him off, some kind of sex that isn't exactly extramarital.

Like Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby, Philip Beard writes insightfully, movingly, and with the lightest touch about the messiness of life. Anyone who wakes up some mornings feeling life is still a work in progress will find this the perfect summer read.

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Editorial Reviews

Austin Murphy
By turns rollicking, ribald, poignant, and sweet, Lost in the Garden is a delightful gem of a book by a writer in complete control of his game.
Sports Illustrated
Library Journal
This is an ambitious novel about a clueless, middle-aged husband who has some serious growing up to do. At stake, it turns out, is everything he holds dear-including his loving wife and two children. Beard's (Dear Zoe) narrator is Michael Benedict, at once vulnerable, humorous, and comically self-absorbed. He is also affluent, obsessed with golf and sex, and appears to have no idea how lucky he is. When his wife announces an unplanned pregnancy, he reacts coolly to the news. This precipitates a marital crisis that ultimately threatens his family and also brings him to some lonely and dangerous places. The skillfully drawn Benedict is almost able to carry the novel on his own. There are some problems, however, with tone and plotting: Beard tries to keep things lighthearted, for example, but when Benedict moves out and begins visiting prostitutes, the novel becomes incongruously dark. Though by the end, Benedict and his wife make tentative steps toward reconciliation, the magnitude of his betrayal seems immense. A flawed but nonetheless intriguing novel; recommended for libraries with large modern fiction collections.-Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Beard (Dear Zoe, 2005) very faintly echoes Updike at Updike's weakest in a golf novel about a suburban Pittsburgh lawyer. Michael, 45, and spunky, beautiful Kelly, 40, who met when she applied to be his secretary, are married and have two lovely daughters. When Michael announces that he wants to train for golf's senior gold circuit, Kelly agrees to support his ambition if he can score under 70 two times. But then she announces she's pregnant. Still traumatized by her pregnancy that ended in stillbirth, Michael shows no enthusiasm for having another child, leading Kelly to withdraw from him sexually. Michael's pharmaceutical stock has taken a sharp turn upward, leading him to believe that he's about to attain independent wealth. Sexually adrift, he begins frequenting "sexual therapy" center Healing Touch, deluding himself that what he's offered there does not constitute infidelity. But when he develops a guilty conscience, he tells Kelly all about it, and surprise-she tosses him out. Around the same time, his stock plummets, and to make it all worse, he's had to move back in with mother and father. He turns to golf, and as he plays under the tutelage of wise and loyal caddy Sal, he reminisces about his romantic and sexual history, trying to figure out where he went wrong and how to get back on track. Now on the golf course, Sal explains to Michael that he has the skill to win but must find the soul to play. As Michael readies for the game of his life, Sal arranges for Michael's parents and Kelly to make an appearance. With earnest, chapter-introducing quotes from James Taylor, John Steinbeck, et al., the author clearly has sincere pretensions for his characters and story. But hisintentions fall flat. There's no doubt that Kelly is taking Michael back, and that the life he remembers is merely tepid. Time to move on. Some pretty good golf tips from Sal, but that's about it to hold your attention.

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Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.91(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Ronlyn Domingue
[An] honest, comical, and oh-so-human story. (Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Mercy of Thin Air)

Meet the Author

Philip Beard, author of Dear Zoe, is a writer, teacher, and attorney. This is his second novel.

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Lost in the Garden 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the Pittsburgh, area, forty-five years old Michael Benedict decides he wants to live his dream of becoming a professional golfer so he plans to join the senior tour. His wife Kelly is unhappy with his desire although they live comfortably with their two children and his investments are growing. However, Kelly says if he score under seventy twice, she will support his Peter Pan fantasy.-------------- When she learns she is pregnant he reacts by being cold towards her. She is hurt by his icy demeanor, but she reacts by withdrawing from him. Needing sex and not getting any home cooking he moves out becomes a recurring client of Healing Touch sexual therapy. He makes his bid to join the tour, but lacks conviction until his caddie Sal gets into his face that he has the talent to play, but not the heart.------------------ LOST IN THE GARDEN is a terrific look at relationships when a man rejects his lifestyle to keep his youth even as he enters middle age. Michael is a deep person as he is the focus of the story line with his refusal to bring anything further into his relationships with loved ones and willingly gives up everyone he cherishes. The rest of the cast is not quite as developed as the prime player. Although the ending implies reconciliation, which goes against the trend of the plot, readers will appreciate making par with Philip Beard.--------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even better than 'Dear Zoe,' now this author takes on the voice of a middle-aged man struggling for his identity. The one thing this book has in common with Zoe is the author's sense of humor and his understanding of children. Do NOT miss this one.