Book Review: ‘Wild Designs’ by Katie Fforde


Title: Wild Designs

Published: 5th June 2003

Publisher: Arrow

Author: Katie Fforde


Twitter: @KatieFforde


Althea is the mother of three strong-minded children – one of whom is a Buddhist – and owner of a finicky dog named Bozo.

Saddled with too large a house (albeit in a beautiful Cotswold village), worrisome mortgage payments, a bossy younger sister and irksome ex-husband, Althea still manages to muddle through life comfortably enough. Until she loses her job.

Seeking solace in her borrowed greenhouse, Althea decides to develop her passion for gardening. And when she wins the opportunity to design a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show with the unexpected help of gorgeous architect Patrick Donahugh, it looks as though Althea may have unearthed a new man as well as a new career…


Goes down as another off my 2016 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book set in your current town or region, the Cotswolds.

Althea’s life is already a bit manic with being a single mum to three children. She then finds out her ex-husband is intending on coming back to the UK from Hong Kong to be a father again now they have grown up. You just know he has an ulterior motive, as shallow as they come. But its about to get turned upside down more when she finds out she is being made redundant from her post at the school. Swiftly followed by finding out that the derelict house she uses the greenhouse for has been sold. Wouldn’t seem so bad if she actually had permission to be there in the first place. She may be a receptionist as her day job but what she really wants to be is a garden designer. She needs the greenhouse to keep her plants in for the few people she does help so needs to convince the new owner to let her stay until she can find somewhere else to put the plants. More so after she wins a competition to compete in the Chelsea flower show. A little white lie about being a garden designer to the new owner Patrick wouldn’t hurt anyone, would it?

One last task before she takes redundancy is to go along on a school trip to France. What she thought would be a fun trip with her co-worker Sylvia, along with taking care of the kids, turns into a bit of an uncomfortable re-meeting with Patrick. Seems she went to him stating she was already a garden designer and would be thankful if she could continue using the greenhouse until she has somewhere else to put the plants. Reluctantly agreeing for a price to be determined later. So he is none too pleased that she lied to him and they don’t get off to a great start. When they find out that they have to share a room together at the house they are staying at things get interesting. Seems he thinks sharing the bed isn’t an option, no matter what she says, so insists he will stay on the floor. From comments made later in the book though I think this is really because he wouldn’t have been sure he could keep his hands off her. He may have a girlfriend at the time – Topaz his much younger assistant who is another character who is very shallow – so seem off limits to Althea but I think he starts to rethink things that weekend too. So maybe he’s not completely off limits.

Can you guess what might happen when two very shallow people meet? After a certain something happens its funny how both Althea and Patrick wanted to console each other when they found out but neither really needed consoling at all. Seems their romance was like a plant. It was going to take some time to get good roots down before being able to blossom. He does make her feel quite cherished when they do come together though. Chemistry is seen but shied away from by her. Only when she sees things a bit clearer does she fear she’s lost the one man for her. She seems very indecisive and selfless to the point of almost giving up on herself in regards to happiness. Make up your mind or the one you want will get away! Well maybe not for a while as it seems he’s just as into her and is willing to wait – but for how long? Also question, since when is 39 old. The way she talks sometimes you’d think she was 59.

Felt this one had a few too many sub stories going on trying to be interlinked around the main one with Althea’s ex-husband, sister, work colleagues and Topaz all pulling the story in different directions. Gardening of course played a key part and you can almost imagine the one she creates at her home and then Chelsea. Gardening is her one release, something just for her that she would never give up. It was a good book, funny in places, but not my favourite with how ‘back and forth’ Althea was being with her decisions. Good winter read though to get you in the mood for getting the garden ready for the season ahead. A good garden is the best place to read in.


3 out of 5 stars

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Filed under Contemporary Romance, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts

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