Julia Kelly returns to the blog with a story that covers 3 eras, 3 generations and one special garden with
The Last Garden in England
Three timelines and women’s perspectives weave together to bring this story centering around a garden to life. In 1907, Venetia is hired to design a garden for a manor house: multiple ‘garden rooms’, perspective and some input from clients allow us to see the garden as it comes into being. Then, when the house is requisitioned in the war in 1944, the house is again part of the story when we meet Beth, a Land Girl who arrived in the area and makes friends with both staff and the mistress of the manor. Lastly, the granddaughter and her husband have hired Emma to restore the garden as they work miracles to bring the house back to the original.
Emma is left with only rough plans and a very rough and overgrown garden but loving that the garden was the last one designed in England by Venetia, she’s more than intrigued by the work, the restoring, and finding clues and plans that harken back to the earliest design. While she works with the current owners, the story unfolds to explain why (and what) is behind the locked gates to an overgrown patch, and neighbors who are related to Beth – the land girl turned homeowner and artist after the war, are able to provide more information.
Most intriguing to me is the way that the author managed to mirror and distinguish the three women’s personalities, even as each was very much a distinct person. But all took chances, had losses and sorrows, and each became integral to the story of the garden as it started, existed and withstood requisitioning during the war, and is returned to the original plans and glory that was intended. A bit of mystery, plenty of romance and heartache, and lots of imagery to bring the vision of the garden to light for readers all kept me moving through the book, anxiously wondering what would befall each character next. Much like the romances that I’ve read from Kelly, the characters are engaging and dimensional, their issues are common to us all, and their stories wind together much as the garden matures: giving readers plenty of moments to enjoy and imagine.
Title: The Last Garden in England
Author: Julia Kelly
Genre: British, Contemporary Elements, Dual Narration, Family Saga, Friendship, Historic Elements, Humor elements, Mystery Elements, Romantic Elements, Setting: Britain, Woman's Fiction
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: 12 January, 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 10 Hours
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.
1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.
1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.