Author: Julia Kelly

Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of women’s fiction and historical romance books about the extraordinary stories of the past. She also writes fast-paced contemporary sports romance as Julia Blake. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London.

Photograph by Scott Bottles.

#BookReview The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly @The_Julia_Kelly @GalleryBooks @SimonSchusterCA #TheLastGardeninEngland #JuliaKelly

#BookReview The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly @The_Julia_Kelly @GalleryBooks @SimonSchusterCA #TheLastGardeninEngland #JuliaKelly Title: The Last Garden in England

Author: Julia Kelly

Published by: Gallery Books on Jan. 12, 2021

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 368

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.


Review:

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.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Julia Kelly

Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of women's fiction and historical romance books about the extraordinary stories of the past. She also writes fast-paced contemporary sports romance as Julia Blake. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London.

Photograph by Scott Bottles.

#BookReview The Light Over London by Julia Kelly @The_Julia_Kelly @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview The Light Over London by Julia Kelly @The_Julia_Kelly @SimonSchusterCA Title: The Light Over London

Author: Julia Kelly

Published by: Gallery Books on Jan. 8, 2019

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 304

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 7.5/10

Reminiscent of Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, this sweeping, entrancing story is a must-read for fans of remarkable women rising to challenges they could never have predicted.

It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.

In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.

Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.

Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties.


Review:

Sweet, intriguing, and romantic!

The Light Over London is a compelling tale set during the early 1940s, as well as the present day, and is told from two different perspectives. Louise, a young girl who finds adventure outside her hometown by becoming a Gunner Girl in the British Army and being swept off her feet by a dashing RAF pilot; and Cara, a recent divorcee who after finding an old locket, photograph, and diary during an estate sale embarks on a journey to discover the owner’s identity and life story.

The writing is light and fluid. The characters are intelligent, resilient, and determined. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel subtly into an engaging tale of life, loss, family, heartbreak, betrayal, friendship, secrets, and love.

Overall, The Light Over London is an uplifting, atmospheric, informative tale about taking chances, moving on, and discovering one’s true self. And even though I felt it delved a little deeper into the romance, relationship side than the historical fiction side of things I did enjoy the little glimpse into some of the unknown, specialty roles women played during WWII.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Julia Kelly

Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of women's fiction and historical romance books about the extraordinary stories of the past. She also writes fast-paced contemporary sports romance as Julia Blake. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London.

Photograph by Scott Bottles.

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