Buchan Gardens is a sedate square in West London. Charles Goodwin, the garden committee president, would like the garden to stay just the way it is. Lord Vernon of Barnstable, the appalling life peer, has plans for the garden. Bryony Mullins, the gusset-mouthed harridan, doesn't give a flying knicker elastic what happens to the garden as long as it's not what Vernon wants. Angel Tenby, the sexually organic gardener, wants the garden to run free. Mrs Kotzen, the neighbour, wants the garden to be chic. The vicar wants the garden to be accessible and relevant. Lily Ng, the teenage daily, would probably think the garden silly if she thought about it at all; she wants to offer sex in lieu of ironing. Mona Corinth, the Hollywood legend, is dead and may be about to become part of the garden. Iona Wallace is the obligatory love interest. She would like to be a garden: laid, forked, plucked, seeded, mulched, vigorously pollarded, bedded and admired for her natural beauty. The garden wants absolutely nothing at all.
Sap Rising may well be a story about dark dank nature both human and vegetable and our uneasy relationship with the mystic natural forces that move the earth. It may be a parable on the fragile consensus that maintains and tends green England. On the other hand, it might just be a farcical love story set in a garden about nothing of any consequence performed by comic grotesques with a lot of swearing and unnatural sex.
A.A. Gill was born in Edinburgh in 1954 and studied at the Slade School of Art. He is the restaurant and television critic for The Sunday Times, for whom he also writes a weekly opinion column. He is the author of two novels, Sap Rising and Starcrossed, and two restaurant biographies, The Ivy Cookbook and Le Caprice. He lives in London.