I’m indebted to a writer friend for pointing me in the direction of Mark Mills’ The Savage Garden, which I opened in some trepidation, guessing that the plot might be pretty similar to Landscape. Initially I was certainly unnerved as one early scene bears a remarkable similarity to one of my own, testimony to the amazing power of coincidence, since neither Mr. Mills nor I could have seen or known of the others’ work. However, steeling myself to read on, I was relieved to find the two novels don’t really compare except in a superficial manner. I also have to say (though maybe it’s just a case of what Clive James has called ‘successful-author-envy-itis’!) that I found it a disappointing read. The sense of place is good and there are lots of interesting digressions, but I coudn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters (some of whom struck me as quite superfluous) and it doesn’t say much for the plot that it had to be explained after the event in a letter. Checking out Amazon, I’m not alone in being underwhelmed. Still, it it had some good things in it, and if I am ever lucky enough to get a novel published, I think I’ll cope with a few poor reviews, not to mention people like me waiting to stick the knife in!