The Gardener

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20121112

To commemorate Armistice Day, Sian Thomas reads Rudyard Kipling's classic story of remembrance, written out of his own grief at losing his son in the First World War, culminating on the killing fields of Northern Europe.

'The Gardener' is the story of a very typical Englishwoman who nobly steps into the breach, taking on the son of her disgraced and now dead brother, who she brings up, and loves as much as is proper, before seeing him of to the war in France. On the news that he is missing presumed dead, she is numbed, living on untouched by events around her. Only on visiting his grave across the Channel, among others struggling with their grief, does she find solance.

Rudyard Kipling was one of the great English short story writers, whose own son John was killed at Loos in 1915. Partly in response to John's death, Kipling helped to set up the Imperial War Graves Commission, the group responsible for the garden-like British war graves that can be found to this day dotted along the former Western Front.

Producer and abridger: Justine Willett

Reader: Sian Thomas