Review: The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden
The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💜💜💜💜💜 The Lost Garden is Book 2 in the Tales from Goswell series, and like the first in the series, The Vicar’s Wife, it is set in England. (The Vicar’s Wife was my favorite book of 2013.)  Although The Lost Garden is book 2 in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

I relished The Lost Garden!  I shrieked with delight when characters from The Vicar’s wife appeared. It was like catching up with beloved old friends. The Lost Garden covered two time periods, the present day and the early 1900’s. Both stories were poignant and involved women who were affected by loss, guilt, and unrequited love, along with the desire to reinvigorate a garden that had been neglected and abandoned as a way to bring a little bit of joy into their grief-stricken lives. The garden is the same in both stories.  Marin Ellis, the woman of the present day, is trying to start a new life as guardian to her 15-year old half-sister, Rebecca. Their father and Rebecca’s mother were killed in a car accident. Having had no previous relationship, the two are trying to adjust to one another while struggling with feelings they secretly harbor against their respective parents.  While on holiday they fall in love with a little house on a vicarage property, called Bower House, and Rebecca convinces her half-sister to purchase it. They soon begin to settle in to their new lives and in time Marin becomes mystified by a photograph she sees of a young, unidentified woman who was standing in her little home’s walled garden with a butterfly on her fingertips, a yearning man in the background.  Who were these two people of over a century ago with the odd expressions, she wonders, and what was going on in their lives?

Eleanor Sanderson has lost her brother to war and she’s devastated. She so loved her brother Walter, and the news of his death is almost too much for her to bear.  Her brother’s friend James has returned physically unharmed by the war, but emotionally he’s a different man, a man who no longer seems interested in her sister, who he’s promised to marry.  Injured soldiers and dashed hopes permeate everyone’s existence in Cumberland, and Eleanor struggles with feelings of hopelessness. She makes up her mind to have the vicarage garden recultivated, along with the walled garden by the little house on the property where her grandmother Elizabeth resides, Bower House, to especially inspire blind soldiers with fragrant blooms that will hopefully lift their spirits; and the gardener, Jack Taylor, is just the man to help her do it. Jack has experience with the war, but Eleanor is intrigued by the way he seems able to cope, not like her brother-in-law James.  As a forbidden relationship begins to develop, secrets are uncovered and Eleanor’s life will change even further.

The two stories ultimately converge since the houses in both time periods are the same. This is referred to as a time slip novel, and I don’t know how Katharine Swartz does it every time, but she’s masterful at writing this type of novel.  I’ve enjoyed all of her stories in this particular format, and The Lost Garden was no exception. Both stories held my interest and the setting was one that I always enjoy, England.  I highly recommend The Lost Garden, and I hope there will be a book 3 in the Tales from Goswell series.

Thank you Library Thing and Lion Fiction for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

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