Review: The White Hart by Leslie P. Garland


After reading the synopsis of this story, I was interested to learn how the three incidents mentioned would connect—mainly because there was a friendly ghost involved. Unfortunately, the connection continues to be a mystery as I was unable to complete this book.

The White Hart is from a group of stories written by the author, set in an English pub called The Red Grouse Inn. Friends gather in this place from time to time to trade stories with on another. This particular one is told by Pete Montague. To be honest, I was put off from the start of this book because of  its prologue. I’m not one of those literary types that decries the use of prologues. They can be a vital asset to a story if done properly. In this case, it was merely used as a tool for Pete’s friends to tease out his story.

After a round of prodding, Pete agrees to tell his tale. What follows is a story about the time he discovered an injured, albino deer in the forest. I thought there might be hope in the arrival of this animal I’d never heard of, but it morphed into what felt like pages of description after description…of the forest, of him helping the deer from the trap, of a random chapel sitting in the distance, of the pews in the chapel…on and on. There seemed to be more description of places and things than anything really happening in the story.

After helping the animal, Pete goes inside the aforementioned chapel and finds a young woman inside. After brief (awkward) introductions, this young woman breaks into a history lesson and description of the same chapel. Sure, she’s telling him how it used to look, but as a reader, I really didn’t care by then. I just wanted to get to the action! After a lengthy description of the old chapel, the young woman launches into a tale of the persons who built the chapel. This might have been ok, but the story was simply “told”. Not in a saucily spun tale sort of way, but in the way of that friend we all have that likes to tell us stories about people we’ve never met and places we’ve never been. And because we have no reference for either, our friend—bless their heart—bypasses the juicy information and gives us a list of every detail about the buildings and every detail about the people involved. To the point where our mind wanders to the leftover mac and cheese in the fridge and how yummy it will be when reheated.

Ultimately, that’s why I closed the book. Not because I had mac and cheese to get to, but because there were just too many overwrought descriptions of things that had no impact on the story—whatever it was. The writing style was also a bit jarring, and Pete’s thoughts often rambled in a way that took me out of the story. Wordy, run-on sentences left me feeling dizzy. For example:

“Yes, I have been here before,” she replied confidently, in complete contrast to myself, and to my  relief did so in a manner which suggested that either she had not noticed, or at least was not acknowledging my ham-fisted conversational gambit.

The one saving grace was a moment in which Pete and the woman debate about why it’s ok for women to want men for money (“security”), but not ok for men to want women for sex. Though an interesting argument, it wasn’t enough for me to continue reading. The cover of this book also left much to be desired. In the end, I cannot recommend or rate this book, nor would I be likely to read another title from this author. If you enjoy books of a  wordy nature,  and the tendency for characters to go on non-essential tangents, this might work for you.




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