Review: The Lost Garden

Book Title: The Lost Garden

Book Author: Katharine Swartz

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: June 27, 2015

Synopsis: “Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident, and at thirty-seven she is made guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister Rebecca. They leave Hampshire for the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast, and settle into Bower House on the edge of the village church property. When a door to a walled garden captures Rebecca’s interest, Marin becomes determined to open it and discover what is hidden beneath the bramble inside. She enlists the help of local gardener Joss Fowler, and together the three of them begin to uncover the garden’s secrets.

In 1919, nineteen-year-old Eleanor Sanderson, daughter of Goswell’s vicar, is grieving the loss of her beloved brother Walter, who was killed just days before the Armistice was signed. Eleanor retreats into herself and her father starts to notice how unhappy she is. As spring arrives, he decides to hire someone to make a garden for Eleanor, and draw her out of – or at least distract her from – her grief and sorrow. Jack Taylor is in his early twenties, a Yorkshire man who has been doing odd jobs in the village, and when Eleanor’s father hires him to work on the vicarage gardens, a surprising – and unsuitable – friendship unfolds.”

This novel centers around two different pairs of sisters, residing on the same property nearly a century apart from one another: Marin and Rebecca in the present day, and Eleanor and Katharine in the early 1900’s.  Their stories are told from the alternating perspectives of Marin and Eleanor, and the narrative floats seamlessly from one timeline to the next. Both pairs of sisters have just experienced the loss of a dear family member and turn their attentions to the walled garden located on the property as a way to process their grief.

This wasn’t a very quick read, but rather a story that unfolds itself slowly, and is more driven by the characters than by any particular drama or action.  The depth of the characters and the exquisite writing will be more than enough to keep you attention, however.  While there were elements of romance, I really appreciated that those relationships often took a backseat to the bonds between the sisters.  I also loved the depictions of this small, English town in which the women resided.

The best way I can think to describe this book would be as The Secret Garden for an older audience, and if you enjoy novels with a past and present story line, I would highly recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

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