"Here is something entirely unexpected and original . . . a small miracle."
–David Malouf, author of Dream Stuff
The Pagoda in the Garden is a novel about how things changed and how they stayed the same over the course of the twentieth century. Set in England during three distinct time periods between 1901 and 1975, the novel explores the lives of three sets of characters, the major ones being expatriate Americans. The reader meets a master novelist, his acolyte (herself later a master), and her lover; a divorced novelist on the verge of middle-age and the Canadian of indeterminate age who flirts with her; a graduate student at King's College and her English lover. Since the various characters occupy roles that parallel and overlap each other, history (a history that ranges from the death of Queen Victoria to the end of the Vietnam War) comes to seem continuous and cyclical as well as catastrophic and disrupted. Paying acknowledged tribute to the work of Henry James (the title alludes to a passage in The Golden Bowl), The Pagoda in the Garden is above all a novel about human emotions and the sometimes fraught, sometimes amusing complications they give rise to.
"Wendy Lesser's delightful three-tiered novel is in part an elegant literary game, and also considerably more–witty, moving, original, starkly honest."
–Jean Strouse, author of Morgan: American Financier
"Observant, ironical, and beautifully written."
–Isabel Colegate, author of The Shooting Party
"This is a novel with a strong sense of time and place, without a false note–a considerable achievement."
–Margaret Drabble, author of The Red Queen