I was totally and delightfully transported to the country estate created by author Julia Kelly in The Last Garden in England. Many of the historical fiction books I’ve read and enjoyed take place in dual timelines. This book immerses us in three periods of time where we meet five fascinating women all connected by the massive garden of Highbury House.
In present day, Emma Lovett is hired to restore the once magnificent garden of the large home, which is undergoing a major renovation. Emma’s research takes her back to 1907 when her idol, designer Venetia Smith, created Highbury House’s themed garden rooms including the Winter Garden, which was now locked with no key to access it. The third timeline brings us to 1944 and wartime. Highbury House has been partially converted into a convalescent hospital for soldiers. Diana Symonds, the lady of the house, is newly widowed. Her story, as well as that of her cook Stella Adderton and Beth Pedley, a young woman helping in the war effort as a “land girl,” all intertwine as their stories unfold revealing many secrets including the mystery of the Winter Garden.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Garden in England. It has everything I look for in this genre – an engaging story, characters to care about and a connection to the past. The rich description of the garden enhances the story making this a very appealing and entertaining book. Some of the character developments were a bit predictable but that didn’t bother me. Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end to learn about the people, historical facts and existing gardens that inspired author Julia Kelly. Her website includes a rendering of the Highbury House garden as she imagined it, which was great to see while reading the book.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the opportunity to read The Last Garden in England in advance of its publication .
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: January 12, 2020.
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