A Thousand Paper Birds, written by Tor Udalt, deals with grief, ghosts, gardening and growth. Most of the story is set in Kew Gardens and follows Jonah who is grieving his wife who suicides, Harry an old gardener at Kew Gardens who looks after Millie, a child who lives in the gardens and Chloe, a struggling artist trying to find her way. Each of the characters is developed as the story unfolds – which is a slow unfolding and at times appears to be going nowhere. But it does all come together for a fascinating look at humans and how we try to believe in life and love, sometimes to the point of craziness.
Each character grows throughout the story in their complexity and strength. Jonah explores his wife’s ‘secret life’ and with the help of Chloe who reminds him that he is not alone in the world. Through this the lives of Harry and Milly unfold in a way that I could not have forseen but seems so obvious on reflection!
I found this book a slow read but worthwhile to keep going to the end.