Donna thought that there was something wrong with her. That she was suffering from a mental illness that had caused her husband to despise her, distance himself from her, and cheat on her. She blames herself for the desolate, miserable thing that is her marriage and her life. Then she comes across a book that will change everything for her, and reading it, she discovers that there’s nothing wrong with her mind at all, but that there is something very wrong with her husband instead.
Marco, she realises, is a malignant narcissist. A textbook case. He has a real and documented mental disorder, and that he’s been controlling, manipulating, and abusing her for decades. The sudden full knowledge of all that he’s purposely done to her enrages her. Not sure how to leave after thirty years of what she finally knows has been intentional mental and emotional abuse from him, and believing that she has nowhere to turn, and also being so physically isolated, she bides her time.
Then she meets and befriends a group of unusual people who share her passion for gardening, and so begins her journey to escape. She joins her new friends in their project to assist elderly people in old age homes care for their small gardens, as well as secretly supplying those suffering from painful and terminal illnesses with medicinal herb and plant remedies. As weeks go by, she delves into her memories, relearns what it is to be respected, liked, and loved again, and slowly she formulates a plan to safely leave her dangerous husband. But unbeknownst to Donna, Marco is in serious trouble, and has desperate plans of his own, and absolutely no regard for her safety.
Review: Another enthralling work from Jo Robinson. I’m so glad I picked it up. Ever since reading, African Me & Satellite TV, I’ve been waiting for Jo to come out with another amazing story.
Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight is a deeply satisfying read with a gripping storyline and strong characters. One cannot but desire to reach out and help Donna as she struggles with the throes of living with a narcissistic husband who doesn’t even allow her to have friends, and the evil ways in which he manipulates her very thoughts and feelings.
The story is well thought out, and constructed. It was written in similar fashion to African Me… I loved it. Kudos to Jo for another fabulous work.