Last year I read and reviewed The Vicar's Wife by Katharine Swartz. I was excited to find that there are other books forthcoming in the series. And I was able to get for review the second- The Lost Garden.
As with The Vicar's Wife, Katharine Swartz goes back and forth between modern times and the past in the telling of the story. As a result, we get to know the characters in both time periods. And the character development is really good, leading the reader to real feel a connection with the characters.
From the book's description:
Present and past residents of a countryside English vicarage search for love
Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident leaving her the guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister, Rebecca. They choose the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast and settle into Bower House, the former vicarage, on the edge of the 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.
I found myself really enjoying the flashback style of telling the story. This isn't always a favorite of mine because when done poorly, this can be confusing. In this story, however, it's done very well and gives the reader a glimpse into the same physical setting almost a century prior.
I enjoyed the World War 1 setting in Eleanor's story. England in the days of the Great War isn't a time period I was very familiar with. But it was interesting setting with the conventions propriety. And the mood of the country at the end of and immediately following the war provided a great backdrop to Eleanor's story.
In modern times, Marin's story was also engaging. The story flows- even going back and forth between the time periods. And I found myself caught up from the start.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one as much as the first. I give it 5 stars and a PG rating for content. You can find The Lost Garden on Kregel here or on Amazon here.
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