Writing a memoir when you’re only a few years out of university may seem presumptuous, but Alice Vincent pulls it off. There are riffs on everything from famous women gardeners to the history of New York’s wondrous High Line elevated linear park. She is on the money when writing about plants — buying one that is too big for your garden is ‘like letting a large, wet dog into an antique shop’ — and convincing on the benefit of growing things, something which lessens ‘my angst, my anxieties, my worries’ Rootbound gives a revealing insight into Alice’s generation, their concerns, self-absorption and earnestness.
The journalist in Vincent ensures her book comes packed with great tales of gardeners past – particularly women. She draws comparisons between millennials and the Victorians, who also turned to houseplants to steady themselves against the pace of the industrial revolution... At the end of her exploration of millennials and their perennials, Vincent allows herself to fall in love again. A full cycle of seasons has been weathered and she stands on her balcony as a calmer woman with “fewer expectations and happier to challenge them”. I hope she continues to blossom.
As the book explores the events of a troubled year, the sense of renewal is palpable, like watching a damaged plant struggle back to life. Vincent vividly conveys how the balm and calm of gardening helped her slowly climb out of the depths of despair and find a new way to ground herself. The book is also a love story. Intertwined with a hymn to nature is the story of how she fell for Matt, and how their feelings for each other gradually unfurled, as she dared to open her heart again.
Rootbound is a poignant testimony to the joy that greenery will bring to your life, and it is a magical reminder that humans, like plants, can mend and grow in their own good time.