Review: 'The Lost Garden' by Katharine Swartz (2015)
Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident, and at thirty-seven she is made guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister Rebecca. They leave Hampshire for the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast, and settle into Bower House on the edge of the village 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 fell in love with the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic 'The Secret Garden' when I was a little girl. I straight away was intrigued by the idea of this beautiful garden, hidden away, and the story has been special to me ever since. So, when I was contacted about reviewing Katharine Swartz's novel 'The Lost Garden', I couldn't help but be fascinated by just the title alone and straight away said 'yes.' Katharine Swartz is a well-established author, having written more than 25 romance novels for Mills & Boon, and 'The Lost Garden', which was released in July 2015, is her second novel for Lion Fiction. I secretly had quite high hopes for this book and was really excited to pick it up and give it a chance!
The life of thirty-seven-year-old Marin Ellis is turned upside down when her father and his second wife unexpectedly die in a car crash and Marin becomes the new guardian for her fifteen-year-old half sister Rebecca. In order to give them both a fresh start, Marin decides to move to a small village on the Cumbrian coast, to an old property named Bower House. Soon after their arrival, Rebecca discovers a door that leads to a walled garden. Marin can't help but be intrigued by the garden and together with the help of local gardener Joss Fowler she tries to discover its story, which eventually brings them back approximately 100 years to the life of vicar's daughter Eleanor Sanderson, and bring the garden back to life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book; what a great read! 'The Lost Garden' has everything I look for in a novel: a captivating storyline (in this case even two fascinating plotlines that were linked to one another), an interesting and in-depth group of characters, a well-paced and comfortable writing style, and a lovely setting. I was already taken in by the book as soon as I had read the first few pages and didn't grow tired of it, not at all. I especially loved the two storylines featuring leading characters Marin and Eleanor and the historical jump of 100 years back in time (I love books with both a modern-day storyline and one set in a different time period), and how the characters' stories were connected.
Marin and Eleanor were great protagonists who each had their own individual story to tell, while at the same time there were numerous parallels between the two characters and the things happening to them. The aspect of the mysterious and beautiful gated garden was something I particularly loved and I really enjoyed the author's descriptions, making it easy to see it all in my mind. I really don't have anything negative to say about this read; I already can't wait to pick up Katharine Swartz's next work! 'The Lost Garden' is a beautifully written, moving and engaging piece of historical fiction with a good touch of romance; a wonderful read which I couldn't get enough of!