China Garden

China Garden

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 estate. But when Clare discovers that Ravensmere is in grave danger, will she risk her future-and Mark's-to save it?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380732289
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/1999
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 288
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. 117 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.
crimsonsonata on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Living in `The Stables¿ at Ravensmere Manor with her mother, a nurse, for the summer was supposed to relaxing and restful for Clare Meredith before she went off to university in the fall. It seems though, that there are too many secrets lurking beneath the surface of the old manor that, strangely enough, call to something in Clare¿s blood.Use and appropriateness in a HS classroom: I first read this novel when I was 15 or 16-years old and couldn¿t get enough of its mix of intrigue and history with a touch of romance and fantasy thrown in. While the merits of teaching it might be slim, it would be a perfect addition to an in-class library for students (most likely females) to borrow. The main character is accessible and relatable, even if she is somewhat too submissive to males, and many girls will find her adventures enviable. The reader that would find this book most interesting would probably have an interest in history, as the novel refers to English history quite a bit. There is at least one scene of the book that involves sexual situations, so it may not be appropriate for more conservative communities, but I know of many girls who loved to read this book over and over again.
DeeDee10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised when I read this book at how much I liked it. I found the characters to be interesting and the reason why her mother left and why her mother didn't want her daughter to go with her. My advice is to give this book a chance.
yourotherleft on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Clare has just finished with her exams and is finally preparing to go to college when her mother drops the bombshell that she's planning to leave her London nursing job to be a private nurse for the Earl of Ravensmere, an English country estate veiled in even more layers of mystery than Clare could hope to imagine. Though she could spend the summer in London with friends, Clare feels an irresistable pull to accompany her mother to Ravensmere, where, it turns out, things are more than a little strange. For one thing, everyone in the neighboring village seems to know her and all seem unusually happy to have her "back" at Ravensmere. Then the hallucinations of the would-be future start, and did I mention that irresistably handsome guy in motorcycle leathers that keeps turning up when Clare least expects him?It doesn't take long for Clare to realize that she is already more wrapped up in Ravensemere's story than she can imagine and so, it happens, is that guy, Mark. As the summer unfolds, Clare learns that her mother has some deep, dark secrets in her past, and that the mystical powers of Ravensmere may well have claim on her own future. And that's all I'll say in the way of plot summary, lest I give away one of The China Garden's many mysteries. I found The China Garden to be an enjoyable, if not particularly memorable, read. Berry easily paces her novel with just the right amount of suspense to keep readers hungry for the answer to the next question. She also captures the darkly mysterious nature of what, on the surface, seems to be a beautiful but otherwise unremarkable estate. The back story and the current story are skillfully woven together, but older readers will probably catch on to much of the mystery before it's been revealed, which, I suppose is half the fun anyway. The only complaint I have has to do with the relationship between Clare and Mark, which, to me, always seemed a bit hollow and shallow for all the forces pushing them together and their own mutual attraction. Their relationship is an important premise for the story, and that it never seemed to go much deeper than lust had a bit of a negative effect on the story. But, then, this book's intended audience might not read into it is much as I'm doing which would make this all a moot point. All in all, a good read and one I would recommend to somebody looking for a good pageturner for the summer months.
Maggie_Rum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful tale filled with romance, mystery and, oddly enough, pagan mythology. I pored through this book in just a few days, only putting it down to sleep or go to class. The characters are believable and lively, and the setting in the English countryside helps to create the mythical vibe.
dalmador95 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, it's different. The china garden itself and the maze dance are compelling ideas and I would have liked more done with them, but the story works.
joyfiction on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fun, original story. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It was fun to read and was easy to get into.
Jenson_AKA_DL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Clare had thought she had known everything about her past. Unfortunately, she is about to find out that nothing she had ever known before was the truth. When her mother returns to Ravensmere, her childhood home, destiny and prophesy weave a web around Clare that may make it impossible for her to ever leave again.When I asked for this book for Christmas last year I was going on only the information that it was a fantasy and a romance. I do agree that it has those aspects in it, but to me it seems almost more a mystery than anything else. The writing style and subject matter seemed very reminiscent of Susan Cooper's "Dark is Rising" series although I would say this particular book would be more for teens than children. Personally, I've always had a bit of an issue with matters of destiny, and the inalterability of it. Thankfully in this case I didn't feel overwhelmed by it and thought the author worked it into the story in an palatable manner. I didn't really care for what I felt was an overwhelmingly fast development of the relationship between Clare and Mark, but once past that part I felt comfortable with it. Truly a pretty unique fantasy that you can't really categorize in terms of vampires, ghosts or fairies. I have read a few reviews stating the book as a ¿spiritual¿ novel, but I'm not really sure I would be comfortable saying that myself. Certainly an interesting tale with an exciting ending that I would recommend to teens looking for worthwhile fantasy.
scistarz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my continuing favorites. The characterization is very realistic and pulls the reader into the book. The slight fantastical/religious? bend only makes the book an even better read.
orangejulia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I described this to a friend as being the perfect YA romantic angsty fantasy novel to give to a pagan/gothy/freaky teen ager. As a non-pagan freaky adult, I loved it. The plot was interesting and kept my attention, the romantic subplots were also great in an angsty star crossed lovers kind of way. I liked how Berry handles a topic which would become very silly: a secret group of magic workers who keep a region well off and environmentally OK. I really enjoyed this book and have recommended it to others who have also had fun with it.
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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