Alan Titchmarsh speaks about his 'gentle' new novel

Alan Titchmarsh's latest novel, The Gift, is out now.

Alan Titchmarsh's latest novel, The Gift, is out now. - Credit: Submitted photo.

Alan Titchmarsh’s new novel is set in his beloved Yorkshire. He tells Rachel Banham his motivation for writing the story, why he believes “gentle books” are no bad thing ... and why he’s long been intrigued by East Anglia.

The love he has for the county where he was born and brought up shines throughout the pages of his book.
Alan Titchmarsh’s latest novel, The Gift, is a powerfully life-affirming story of the wonder of nature, the ties of family, and the healing power of love. And it’s all set in the Yorkshire countryside that he loves.
Alan says: “I wanted to do something which very much was connected with the landscape. I hadn’t been to Yorkshire for two years, which is my own county.
“I was pining a bit for Yorkshire, so I went to Yorkshire with my writing.  
“I can close my eyes and I’m there. I can walk through Ilkley. I can walk the moors ... as easy as anything. I can be there, I can smell it, feel it – so I don’t necessarily have to go back because I know it so well. I didn’t leave until I was 20, so it’s a big part of my life.”
The Gift tells the story of Adam Gabriel, who has always been a child of nature. Raised on his parents’ remote Yorkshire farm, he seems destined for a quietly contented life. 
As he grows, Luke and Bethany see flickers of something extraordinary in their son – a healing touch that goes beyond his love for the land. But Adam’s gentleness has always made him an outsider, and a powerful gift can also be a heavy burden.
Alan explains: “He’s a shepherd boy, he’s born and brought up on the moors, so he’s a man of the land who works the land. He respects the land.
“To him the land speaks, but he has a gift which is not possessed by everybody and therefore people can be suspicious of it and distrustful, and I just wanted to explore that.”
He says: “I think in a way over the past couple of years everybody has learned something that those of us who work the land have known all along, all our lives that we’ve been doing it – that it has great healing powers.”
Alan recently returned to Yorkshire for the first time since the first lockdown which he says was “wonderful, on to the moors, back home as it were”.
Along with his love of nature and the Yorkshire landscape, in The Gift, he was also keen to show that we need to be much more tolerant of things we don’t understand.
He says that he is often told that he writes “gentle books”.
“We all need, I think, sometimes just to be reminded that there’s more goodness in life than badness,” he says.
“The badness seems to get all the press and publicity, so I like to write books that I hope are not bland or soft, but redress the balance and just remind people that there’s a lot of goodness about.”


The Gift, by Alan Titchmarsh, is published by Hodder and Stoughton.

The Gift, by Alan Titchmarsh, is published by Hodder and Stoughton. - Credit: Hodder and Stoughton


Goodness is also evident in the ITV1 series Love Your Garden, where Alan and his colleagues create beautiful gardens for deserving people.
“It’s quite nerve-racking, but they’re the most amazing stories, people’s triumph in the face of adversity – what people give up, what people do for other people,” Alan says.
“Again, it’s going back to the whole goodness thing really. People are unsung heroes and heroines and it is wonderful to find out really carefully from them what they would want in the garden and make it the garden of their dreams and I like doing that. 
“We’ve got a great little team with Katie and David and Frances and Danny. It’s lovely to be a part of a team which really gets on and which works really hard and creates a bit of magic.”
Alan still clearly enjoys his work – the sociability of the various TV series that he works on and the solitude of his writing. 
He is now writing another book, The Gardeners’ Almanac, which will be published on October 27 this year. He remains busy.
“I don’t have to work, you see. I just do things I like doing, so that’s all right. 
“I sleep well. I’m generally in bed by 10.15pm,” he says.
“People say: ‘When are you going to retire?’ Well, why would I and then have to invent something to fill my hours?
“I love what I do, I really do. I’m trying to pace myself a bit more because I’m not 30 any more, but that said, I’m still healthy, sound in wind and limb, enjoy doing what I do. You just sort of carry on don’t you? Wear out rather than rust out, I think.” 

■ The Gift, by Alan Titchmarsh, is out now, published by Hodder and Stoughton.
■ Love Your Garden is on ITV1 on Tuesdays at 8pm. 
■ Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh is on ITV1 on Sundays at 10am. Find out more and see previous episodes at: www.itv.com
■ Love Your Garden website: www.loveyourgarden2.wordpress.com


Long-held love for “an intriguing place”
Alan has visited East Anglia many times, for work and leisure, and has relatives in Norfolk.
“I love East Anglia. We used to holiday there, before the kids were born, I remember holidaying in Snape,” he recalls.
“Norfolk and Suffolk I love. ‘Very flat, Norfolk,’ said Noel Coward, but in my experience not all of Norfolk is flat, the most wonderful coastline there. 
“I’ve been very lucky in my broadcasting career, doing things like Gardeners’ World which means I got to travel and now doing Love Your Garden I get to travel all over the country doing gardens for people. 
“Ground Force was the same, Songs of Praise similarly, so I’ve been to every single county in Britain and that’s a lovely thing to have done. I love East Anglia – I think it’s an intriguing place.”


Alan Titchmarsh on the cover of the May 2022 issue of Let's Talk magazine.

Alan Titchmarsh on the cover of the May 2022 issue of Let's Talk magazine. - Credit: Archant