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The Gardener of Baghdad

Narrated by: Randal Schaffer
Length: 5 hrs and 51 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

"Two people, one city, different times; connected by a memoir. Can love exist in a city destined for decades of misery?" 

Adnan leads a weary existence as a bookshop owner in modern-day, war-torn Baghdad, where bombings, corruption, and assault are everyday occurrences and the struggle to survive has suffocated the joy out of life for most. But when he begins to clean out his bookshop of 40 years to leave his city in search of somewhere safer, he comes across the story of Ali, the Gardener of Baghdad. Adnan rediscovers through a memoir handwritten by the gardener decades ago that beauty, love, and hope can still exist, even in the darkest corners of the world.

©2014 Ahmad Ardalan (P)2017 Ahmad Ardalan

What members say

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must read or listen.

Not in a long time has a book made me cry with joy and anguish.

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  • Ginny Aybar-Flores
  • 28-12-2017

Wonderful story!


It was during a long day at work and thinking of selling his bookstore, Adrian comes upon a book that he did not recall seeing there before. Taking the book in hand, he realizes that is tye memoir of a young man who fell in love with an English woman. Adian is captivated and reads the entire memoir of the young man who wrote it more than 40 years ago.
The Gardener of Baghdad is a beautiful and heartwarming story of two young people of different race and religion who fell in love and their struggles to be together. This story does not only captivates you with its characters but gives you an insight of how it was ub Iraq.
This is a great story, one to read or listen to, whichever you prefer.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Shoppermom
  • 20-12-2017

An impressive look at a time and place now gone.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. I'm glad AudioBoom gave me the opportunity to listen to The Gardener of Baghdad because it's probably not something I would have picked up on my own, and I'm very grateful I had the chance to experience it. The storytelling had a few minor problems, one of which was word choices that occasionally rang false given the time, location, and the narrator's - the book's narrator, not Mr. Schaffer's - non-native fluency in English. But the story was mostly a credible one, with a particularly satisfying finish. (And it's in the "mostly" that the story loses a star: no woman could really have been THAT beautiful or that perfect, etc.) The largest part of the book takes place in the mid-50s in Baghdad, and though there were constant political tensions, it nevertheless was a city of learning, culture, and order. The protagonist is given refuge for a time with Kurds in the north, and it is heartbreaking to know how their land/culture has been ripped apart in the recent past. I'm truly glad I listened, and I'd recommend the book to anyone wanting a glimpse of a world now gone.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • pixledust
  • 26-12-2017

A charming cross-cultural love story.

This is a story within a story. Adnan, the book shop owner, discovers an old handwritten memoir hidden in a book in a corner of his shop. He begins to read the memoir and becomes engrossed in the depictions of the real people. He ignores his family and his business while finishing the memoir. He is then obsessed with finding out what happened to the people described. He tracks down family members of Ali in order to hear the rest of the story. Reaching the conclusion of this real-life saga helps Adnan decide whether to leave Baghdad with his family.

This story is told in a fresh, simple style. It takes the reader into 1950's Baghdad and Iraq. The story is engrossing. It is the story of young love between an English woman and an Iraqi gardener. Some elements of the story strain credulity--the fact that Adnan's wife is okay with him reading a book for 3 days, no real reason for the young woman to like Ali in the first place, and the flawlessness of both main characters. Some of these things can possibly be explained by culture or that the main characters are newly in love. For the most part, the story is charming. The love story causes the reader to remember what it is like to be a young person in love. The characters are likable and the narrator does a good job. This story is very clean. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Vicky
  • 08-12-2018

Words Live Like Memories

Identity. Relationship. Love. Revolution. Baghdad in the fifties. Words shared have a life of their own, just like memories. <u>The Gardener of Baghdad</u> is a story that draws you in with a sense of connection between the characters that are so well developed that they seem like neighbors. Happiness pervades life in Baghdad. But, underneath a current of fear and simmering anger ride waves of race division. But, love finds a way.

I chose this book for my stop in Baghdad on my Journey Around the World in 80 Books for 2018 at the recommendation of a friend. It sounded interesting from the info, but I did not expect the beautiful story that unfolded. This is a fictional read that anyone could enjoy reading from start to finish. And, what a finish! I stopped my Arabian stallion to smell the roses here in Baghdad, and traded him for a ticket on <u>The Great Railway Bazaar</u> with Paul Theroux. And now it is time to board the train to Iran and beyond. All aboard!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Claire
  • 20-10-2018

I'm speachless...

It's tempting to say that the narration was a highlight of this book, the character voices were fabulous especially the accents, the delivery was smooth well-paced, and overall it was engaging to listen to. However as great as the narration was, I loved everything equally about this book.

The book covers two different time periods with the characters some appearing in both and something strictly in one or the other, the two times are woven together in a very skillful manner.

The characters in this book and the descriptions are vividly created and painted beautiful images within my mind both of places and personalities. The emotions that are involved in the story pour off the page and it was impossible not feel for everything that the characters were going through.

From the first page until the last I found myself desperate to know what was going to happen next and whether things were going to work out how I hope they would all way if there would be a twist at some point. There were definitely interesting twists in the book, but not necessarily where I was expecting them to be and I certainly wasn't expecting the end to be what it was... but I'm not going to give that away.

I've read a lot of books this year (over 600) and I can honestly say that this is one of my favorites.

I received a free copy of this book from the author and/or narrator and/or publisher and I voluntarily wrote this honest review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • HistoryBuff
  • 04-10-2018

This was a great story

I received this book at my request and am voluntarily leaving a review.

This was a sweet story that took awhile to get me really engaged. Once it did, I was hooked. I saw the surprise ending coming but that didn't make it any less enjoyable. I liked this story a lot. You probably will too!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon CustomerBeliever
  • 17-05-2018

I Enjoyed It

I got this ARC via audiobook boom and this is my voluntary review. This is a beautiful love story between two people of different cultures and races. It also reveals the struggles they had to deal with in order to stay together. It is a glimpse into a world of civility that is so lacking in today's world. The narrator did an excellent job and made the story come to life. It is worth the listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jstep
  • 28-01-2018

A beautiful escape to the Baghdad of the past...

I loved this story. It swept me away from the beginning and I devoured it quickly. The Gardener of Baghdad by Ahmad Ardalan was a classic love story that takes place primarily in 1950's Baghdad. Adnan is a local book store owner who is starting to go though some of his most prized books in order to sell the bookstore, as Baghdad has just become too unsafe for his family. It's while he is going through his books one evening that he finds a story hidden in a French book cover, a story that was written by Ali, the Gardener of Baghdad, and his Mary, back in the 1950's.

The story tells of a forbidden romance, civil unrest, murder, love, friendship and was written so beautifully that I could picture the Baghdad of the 1950's as I was reading it. What a different world, but with similarities to present day Baghdad as well. Are there some things that may seem a little far fetched as other reviews have mentioned? Yes, but this is a fiction novel. I always expect there to be a bit of artistic license with a few things that may be a tad unbelievable. I mean, I love James Bond movies. Are they anywhere realistic? Um...no. lol

Anyways, I just really enjoyed this book. I don't want to give away the story within the story other than to say that it's a love story but parts are sad as well. The ending ties everything up well though, so you aren't left with questions. Also, I found the pace of the book to be perfect, and never found myself getting bored at all.

Randal Schaffer did fine job narrating. I did notice a few spots where he had gone and re-recorded something at a later point because the tone and cadence didn't quite match, but that is so minuscule in the overall narration, that I didn't take away any stars for that. I think he was a good narrator for this novel and would listen to more of his performances in the future.

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher for an honest review. If it sounds interesting, give it a listen. It was great!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ezra Cohen-Yashar
  • 23-01-2018

nice story in interesting time that faded away

It is good to hear about Iraq not only in terms of the bombing but to reflect the amazing past it had just a few decades ago. The story is nice and optimistic. the narration is clear and easy to follow. great pass time in heavy traffic to work

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-01-2018

a simple interesting story

it was interesting I learned some information about my beloved Baghdad were I knew few about

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Hedges
  • 04-02-2018

What a wonderful book!

Would you listen to The Gardener of Baghdad again? Why?

This is a book I would listen to again.

What about Randal Schaffer’s performance did you like?

The narrator was great.

Any additional comments?

This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was beautifully written and the characters were very likable. What I loved most about it was the description of Baghdad, the author has a beautiful way of taking the listener through his writing to the wonderful city and bringing it alive in our imagination. I would highly recommend this book and will definitely be looking for other books by this author.

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  • DubaiReader
  • 15-03-2018

Baghdad, city of romance.

This book was an interesting balance between the violent Baghdad of today and the genteel place of luxury gardens that it once was.

Current day Adnan struggles to run his bookshop amongst bombings, terror and intermittent electricity. His wife is desperate to leave the city, but Adnan is attached to the shop, which he inherited from his father. Although he has reluctantly agreed to leave, he is still nostalgically pottering around, when he comes across an old handwritten memoir hidden on shelves right at the back.
It immediately grabs his attention and he spends several nights ensconced in the shop, reading by candlelight.

The manuscript details the story of Ali, a young farmer who branches out into gardening and makes quite a name for himself in 50's Baghdad. Unfortunately he falls in love with a young lady whom he is prohibited from marrying. When the narrative of the sad love story comes to a sudden end, Adnan uses his contacts to try and find out what happened - and he takes us with him; we too are longing to know how the story ends.

This book has a beautiful cover, which appealed to me immediately. There is some fairly floral language, but this is not inappropriate when reading a book set in the Middle East. The story is told in an interesting way, using Adnan's bookshop and later his contacts. It is also well read in the audiobook version, by Randal Schaffer.

Ahmad Ardalan has other books set in Iraq and I am hoping that it won't be too long before these are also available as audiobooks.