Author: Julia Kelly
Published by: Gallery Books on Jan. 12, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: Simon & Schuster Canada
Book Rating: 8.5/10
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.
Absorbing, romantic, and beautifully written!
The Last Garden in London is an engaging, moving tale that sweeps you away to the Highbury House Estate in Warwickshire, England from the original commission of the estate’s gardens, through WWII and its requisition as a convalescent hospital, to the current day garden restoration efforts and the discovery of some long-buried secrets hidden beneath its soil.
The prose is rich and eloquent. The characters are resilient, brave, and authentic. And the plot is a delightful tale set in 1907 to the present day that moves seamlessly between multiple perspectives and the past and present as it unravels all the personalities, behaviours, motivations, secrets, and complex relationships within it.
Overall, The Last Garden in London is ultimately a tale about life, loss, tragedy, grief, hope, history, family, sisterhood, and friendship. It’s a captivating, heartwarming, uplifting novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and am certain will please all those who love to read historical fiction that has alluring characters, an evocative, timeslip storyline, and a sliver of romance.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.