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The Devil's Garden

W. B. Maxwell

Book Overview: 

Risque for its time, but tame by today's standards, The Devil's Garden is a story of passion and mystery. William Dale, the main character of the story is Postmaster of Rodhaven. He is introduced as an honest peasant of uncompromising temper, whose rough nature is ever softened by his pretty wife Mavis. Mavis is an orphan raised by her Aunt Petherick. Known as Will, and referred to as Dale throughout the story, he gets into trouble at the post office but thanks to the intervention of the local magnet of Rodhaven, he is cleared and reinstated. At the height of his joy, his wife meets him in London. Together they dine at a good restaurant and attend a music hall performance. Dale's evening in London is transformed into a catastrophe when he learns a past secret about Mavis that threatens his marriage. Confronted with this secret, Will and Mavis struggle to make their marriage work and become successful. Ironically, Dale is eventually confronted by the same scenario.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Thank you, sir. Much obliged, sir."

When leaving, he gave the waiter a generous tip.

To-day his walk through the gaily-crowded streets was sweet to him as a lazy truant ramble in the woods during church-time. Everything that he looked at delighted him—the richness of shop-windows, showing all the expensive useless goods that no sensible person ever wants; the liveries worn by pampered servants standing at carriage wheels; the glossy coats of mettlesome, prancing horses; the extravagant dresses of fine ladies mincingly walking on the common public pavement; the stolid grandeur of huge policemen, and the infinite audacity of small newspaper boys; the life, the color, the noise. It seemed as if the busy city and the pleasure-loving West-end alike unfolded themselves as a panorama especially arranged for one's amusement; and his satisfaction was so great that it mutely expressed itself in words which he would have b. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Honestly I wasn't expecting such a frank book about sexual abuse to be published - and popular - in 1914. (And yes, it was sexual abuse. Don't lie to me or to yourself.) I started out siding with some of the characters in the story but then they would go do something stupid and make me lose all resp

In the book Performing Flea, by P. G. Wodehouse, the great author notes both that Maxwell was "one of my favourite authors" (p. 63), and he also observes in the book that: "as a rule I think most novels would be better, if shorter" (page 89).

I include the two above observations in this review becaus