January 21

A Robot In The Garden – Deborah Install

A Robot In The Garden 2A story of the greatest friendship ever assembled.

Ben Chambers wakes up to find something rusty and lost underneath the willow tree in his garden. Refusing to throw it on the skip as his wife Amy advises, he takes it home.

Ben does not want children, or even a job, and now he has found yet another reason for staying in his study and ignoring everyone.

It is only when Amy walks out that Ben realises he has alienated all the human beings in his life. He now has one friend left.

This is the story of a unique relationship, and how one man opens his heart to a past he did not want, and a future he cannot lose.


A Robot In The Garden will be published by Doubleday on 23rd April.


I approached A Robot In The Garden with a completely blank slate. I did not read the plot synopsis in order to allow me to discover the story for myself – I had initially thought the title sounded fun and I really liked the cover art.

At the end of the book I had enjoyed a story which was nothing like the tale I had expected but it was a story which had made me smile as I read it and kept me entertained throughout. Definite positives.

We follow the story of Ben, he seems to be sleepwalking through life and does not realise that his career and his marriage are slipping away from him. One morning he looks out of his window to see A Robot In The Garden. As the story is set in a world where androids and synthetic life forms are a part of daily life a robot is not an un-natural phenomenon, however, this particular robot is boxy, clunky and quite unique.

After Ben fails in his initial attempts to engage with the Robot (named Tang) Ben’s wife, Amy, decides she has had enough and walks out. With only the quirky robot for company Ben resolves to find where Tang came from and, more importantly find how to repair some of Tang’s ailing components.

This is essentially a story of friendship. Ben has to find a way to manage Tang’s unpredictability and socialise him so that he can be trusted in polite company. Tang, for the most part, behaves with the attention span of a toddler and the ‘sleekit’ cunning of a manipulative child. Parents of young children will be able to relate to some of the awkward situations that Ben finds himself in.

In brief: not my normal type of book but an engaging story. I have seen comparisons to the Paddington Movie – a vulnerable character who is amusingly out of his comfort zone. I also found it similar to last year’s Waiting For Doggo, given how well Doggo fared this should bode well for Tang!

Finally Tang is described throughout the book yet in my mind he always looked (and sounded) like Johnny Five from the 1980’s Short Circuit films. I loved those films!

If you happen to find A Robot In The Garden do the right thing and give it a good home.

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Posted January 21, 2015 by Gordon in category "From The Bookshelf