Posted in Books I have read

The Lost Garden – Katharine Swartz

Historical Fiction 4*'s
Historical Fiction

If you like a good dual time-line novel then this is probably for you and as a bonus both the past and the present tales are equally interesting.

Marin took her younger half-sister Rebecca on a trip to give them a break from their normal routine. Rebecca’s parents, and Marin’s father, had died in a car-crash three months previously and Marin had found herself in charge of the bewildered fifteen year old so a tip away was just what they both needed. When they came across the Bower House in Goswell an impulsive decision saw them uprooting and moving to the village.

In 1919 Eleanor Sanderson is also grieving, for her brother Walter who died just before Armistice Day. Eleanor has her family about her but as the realities of the war being over become apparent she had to stop wallowing in what she had lost and find an interest.

Both stories, unsurprisingly given the title are linked by a garden. In the past Eleanor has the Vicarage gardener to help her transform the gated garden into something beautiful and magical. In the present Marin borrows a strimmer to cut back the brambles that have overtaken the space. As she gets to know the other villagers Marin decides to explore the history of her garden and with a tantalising photograph begins to uncover the past.

Although the two women’s tales are linked by grief, they both explore how to overcome it and in turn embrace life and learn to forgive those that have wronged them. The secondary characters are equally as interesting, particularly Eleanor’s spiky elder sister Katherine who has hidden depths. Katherine is the one to suspect that Eleanor’s interest in the garden has as much to do with the gardener Jack Taylor, as the seed catalogues she pours over. Even as society is changing in the post war years a relationship between the vicar’s daughter and a common gardener is not going to be well-received but is Eleanor mature enough to proceed with caution? Of course not! Where’s the fun or story in that. Marin also begins a tentative relationship, something that is relatively new to her too.

This was a gentle story which was bound to appeal to this reader with the echo of The Secret Garden where nature lends a helping hand to soothe the emotions. The past section was well-researched with the details included natural to the storyline. An all-round enjoyable escape with a few lump-in-the-throat moments which I consider essential for this type of story.

I’d like to thank the publisher Lion Fiction for allowing me to read a copy of this book for review purposes. The Lost Garden will be published on 15 May 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Teaser Tuesday (February 4)

Teasing Tuesday CB
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser this week is from The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine

The Child's Child

‘In my house where your innocent sister lives? Stay here where everybody we know would see your disgrace? I think not.’

Someone must be dead. He went up to his mother, laid his hand on her shoulder and said, ‘Where’s Maud? What’s happened to Maud?’

Reading Barbara Vine is like wrapping up in a quilt and saying a big ahh… I was slightly worried about reading this book being the first published since The Birthday Present in 2008, but it has proved to be a really enjoyable read. The most enjoyable section for me is the historical part which starts in 1929 and continues through the Second World War as this suits Barbara Vine’s instantly recognisable style of writing perfectly.