Add to Cart:

Gardening in the Dark


By Jennifer Syrkiewicz

ISBN: 9781849912181
Published: 2010
Pages: 224
Key Themes: fiction, bipolar affective disorder, depression, love, empowerment


Albert Camus wrote that the only real question a human being has to ask of themselves is; should I live, or should I die? Before this question is answered, we are unable to progress with life, to seize the grass and the smiles and the sunlight, because we are still pondering.

‘Gardening in the Dark’ follows the path of Alex, as she stumbles towards making this decision. Interspersed with her story we meet Ally, a young girl whose childhood is entirely affected by the impact of her Mother’s Bipolar.

Through Alex and Ally’s stories, we come to realise that the cyclical nature of the condition affects not just a single person, but entire generations. Despite this, ‘Gardening in the Dark’ is ultimately a poignant and evocative novel about love, embracing life, and personal triumph over tragedy

About the Author

Jennifer Syrkiewicz has been writing all her life, drawing from a mixture of personal experience and imagination to inform her fiction.

Diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder, Jennifer wrote her first novel, ‘Gardening in the Dark’, to raise awareness of the condition and express how Bipolar affects the lives of both the person diagnosed, and those around them. Since writing the novel, Jennifer has set up a support group for the condition in her area.

Jennifer was born in 1976, in Yorkshire. Following a meandering trail across the UK to attend various universities, she is now happily settled in North Yorkshire with her husband Paul and two dogs. She runs a small Communications business and spends most of her time blogging, writing articles and producing fiction and poetry.

Book Extract

Chapter Two

The road less taken was arduous work when you were drunk. It involved concentrating very hard on putting one booted foot before the other, and attempting to follow a complicated line. Did the road have to be in a winding line, Alex mused as she focussed on taking the necessary steps? Could it not be straight but just unused? The pavement seemed fully used as Alex meandered along it. Chewing gum stuck like little dots all over it, gleaming softly in the streetlights’ glare. Traffic approached behind her, shining out and illuminating her slight figure, then plunging her into darkness as the cars passed, leaving only two red lights to look at which shattered into shards if Alex screwed up her eyes.

The pavement was too bloody long. Alex was overtaken by ambulances, blaring and blue, as they streamed past her, go-faster stripes of squat white which smeared against her vision. Perhaps she should just walk and walk until one day she walked herself right out of the sadness and came out the other side. Or running would be better, to run so fast that she left it behind. She continued to walk. She had decided not to cry any more, as the tears had been a waste of time anyway, time which she did not want, and they served no purpose. Walking was better, walking without crying. She felt a knot of nervousness in her stomach about what she was about to do. Nervousness felt good. Feeling, just as a thing, felt good. It seemed as if she hadn’t felt for a very long time, even though the sadness had only lunged at her from above about three weeks ago. Three weeks is a long time to feel sad, if you do nothing but sit inside the sadness and let it weigh you down, until you can’t move anymore.

So, on the plus side stood walking. Feeling nervous. On the negative side stood effort, the cold, the sadness. She felt as if she were walking with more weight than usual, as if she had to carry the misery along with her like a leaden cloud on her head, or a shroud about her shoulders. But, all that was immaterial as the decision had been made. She was not going to cry any more. A man in a too-large leather coat loomed up in front of her, and then was gone. Her body responded sluggishly, as Alex felt fear only after the man had returned into the darkness. It made her smile, if only in a detached kind of way. Funny that the body will respond predictably to life, even when the mind has decided to shun it. That Alex could feel fear was a plus. Fear was excitement, just with a different aim. It felt the same. She searched inside herself, trying to remember a time when she had been excited about something. The recollection evaded her. However, her nervousness was growing with each step she took, pushing the misery to one side in order to take over her body fully. She enjoyed it. It was an abstract, useless feeling, but at least it was there.

Eventually, her feet slowed, and she approached a building. It was squat, built with brown brick, and illuminated too much, so that when she stared at it in fear, the brightness made her eyes hurt. She walked up to the entrance, stepped back, then walked around the corner and sat down on her haunches against the wall.

“This wall is where I’m supposed to be just now.” Alex mumbled to herself. She reached into her pocket to pull out her cigarettes and lighter. She carefully smoked a cigarette down to the last section, hoping that she would not be seen. She needed to think, but when she tried to sort out the jumble of fears and thoughts in her mind, nothing seemed to make any sense. But she had come this far. She was ready. She stood up again, brushed herself down, and walked once more to the glass doors which separated her from the lights inside. Inside was almost empty, with the exception of four people sitting in twos along the wall. Alex hesitated as she looked through the doors into the room. She hadn’t thought this far ahead and suddenly felt unsure. The other road, the travelled path, felt suddenly safer, sleepier, and more secure. She paused at the entrance, and the automatic doors opened for her like an invitation as she stepped forwards cautiously. It was terribly quiet inside. There was a walled reception desk, with an elderly woman in stern glasses peering at pieces of paper, then tapping into a computer screen. Alex approached the desk with an overwhelming sense of trepidation. “Be brave.” she said to herself, and her body responded by pumping out all the blood from her arms and legs and making her heart hammer. “Bastard body,” she whispered, as she used her will instead to propel forward until she could place her two index fingers on the smooth white of the reception desk.

“Hello.” she said, and the woman looked up, bored and irritable, for after all it was past midnight and Alex certainly didn’t look like she was an emergency. “Can I help you?” the woman asked, her voice reflecting the expression on her face. Alex paused. She didn’t know the answer, so was not sure how to respond.

“I’m going crazy.” she said, the words apologetic. “And I want someone to help me with that.” she concluded. The sentence was all wrong, but how was she supposed to articulate the truth? The woman, surprisingly, accepted it. “What’s your name, your address?” she asked, as if people wandered in to the Accident and Emergency department every evening and announced themselves in a similar vein. Alex supplied the details, and the woman asked her to take a seat. Alex hesitated.

Add to Cart:

  • Model: paperback
  • 175 Units in Stock

This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 24 June, 2010.