My original inspiration for the book was the ancient Celtic myth of Blodeuwedd, the woman made out of flowers to be a perfect wife. The story appears in the ‘Mabinogion’, a collection of tales, including some featuring King Arthur, first translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest in the nineteenth century.
In the story, Blodeuwedd doesn’t stay the ‘perfect’ and the dutiful woman she was made to be, but falls in love with someone else. She tries to get rid of her husband and is punished by being turned into an owl, to spend the rest of her life ugly and despised.
The story has always fascinated me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to wonder whether that moment of ceasing to be young and beautiful and wishing to please others, might actually be the real beginning of Blodeuwedd’s story, and not the end. Why should it be only men that are venerated and rewarded as they show signs of growing older and wiser? Surely a woman’s life experience is just as important, and as profound. We, too, learn from our mistakes and hopefully become better people along the way. And it is this life journey, and the gaining of empathy with others, that, in the end, makes us truly human.
I feel passionately that it’s time we women claimed our right to wrinkles as a badge of honour! For if you look, if you really look, an owl is a creature of the most exquisite beauty, after all.
So Eden’s Garden is about women growing older and wiser, and the true beauty that this journey brings.