Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

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.

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: January 12th 2021
4/5 stars

It's been a year since I was first introduced to Julia Kelly with both, The Whispers of War and The Light over London - click on titles for my reviews.  So it only stands to reason that I would follow those up with The Last Garden in England.

Given the year that 2020 has turned out to be I loved that the current day story is set in 2021 - hope for a better year. I haven't read too many books with 3 different story lines set in 3 distinct time periods it wasn't hard to stay on top of things.  The uniqueness of a multi room garden with the different themes/names felt very English to me and one I'd love to see in person.

It wasn't until the half way point that things picked up for me and the story took off.  That being said it's not like the first half wasn't good.  The introduction to the different characters gave me a chance to get to know them, their backgrounds and personalities.  The WW2 story was my favourite as it involved more women - and I got to see another side of how the war affected those out in a country setting. It was a horrible time of adjustment and heartache. 

The Last Garden in England is a story of friendship, legacy and creating your own path. It hits book stores on January 12th and available for preorder now. 

My sincere thanks to the author, Julia Kelly for a digital ARC (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

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