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The Lost Garden (Tales from Goswell) by…

The Lost Garden (Tales from Goswell)

by Katharine Swartz

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I wanted an easy-going book for a recent trip to Europe. Nothing too complicated with multiplying characters or, even worse, a family tree to keep straight. I knew while traveling, I would be happily distracted and pleasantly tired. I would only be reading in short bits and pieces.

I’d been saving the The Lost Garden just for this trip. I eagerly awaited this historical novel of a hidden garden with secrets, a dual time-line (present day and just after WWII) and set in rural England. (I know, I’m boringly quite predictable.)

It also held charm because it brought to mind The Secret Garden one of my all-time favorite and cherished children’s books.

The Lost Garden is both a mystery and family saga set at Bower House, on the edge of a village church property with a hidden walled garden. In 1919, nineteen-year-old Eleanor Sanderson is grieving the death of her brother and her father hires a young gardener, Jack to restore the walled garden to comfort her. Eleanor falls for Jack especially once he reveals the garden to her. (I won’t give away the special garden he created – just know it’s magical.) Problems arise, secrets are kept and the garden is at the center of it all.

In the present day, Marin Ellis has taken on the custody of her 15 year old sulky half sister, Rebecca. They move to Bower house to try and start a new life for themselves. They, too, are grieving the sudden accidental death of their parents. When Rebecca shows a spark of interest in the now decrepit walled garden, Marin hires Joss, a local gardener to help them restore the garden. Together, they uncover the garden’s past and its secrets – and again friendships and romance evolve around the lost garden.

I found the characters authentic and the setting just so darn dreamy (I want my own secret garden…). For those readers who want a fast moving plot and high drama – this is not a book for you, as The Lost Garden moves gently and slowly along. I found myself living with its characters, breathing in the rooms of the house and seeing the garden transformed in both time periods.

A purely pleasant read for total escape to a magical secret garden — some times that’s all you need.

Digital review copy provided by Lion Fiction via NetGalley.

SEE MORE on my blog: http://www.bookbarmy.com/

( )
  BookBarmy | Apr 13, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Lost Garden is Book 2 in the Tales from Goswell series, and like the first in the series, The Vicar's Wife, it is set in England. (The Vicar's Wife was my favorite book of 2013.) Although The Lost Garden is book 2 in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

I relished The Lost Garden! I shrieked with delight when characters from The Vicar's wife appeared. It was like catching up with beloved old friends. The Lost Garden covered two time periods, the present day and the early 1900's. Both stories were poignant and involved women who were affected by loss, guilt, and unrequited love, along with the desire to reinvigorate a garden that had been neglected and abandoned as a way to bring a little bit of joy into their grief-stricken lives. The garden is the same in both stories. Marin Ellis, the woman of the present day, is trying to start a new life as guardian to her 15-year old half-sister, Rebecca. Their father and Rebecca's mother were killed in a car accident. Having had no previous relationship, the two are trying to adjust to one another while struggling with feelings they secretly harbor against their respective parents. While on holiday they fall in love with a little house on a vicarage property, called Bower House, and Rebecca convinces her half-sister to purchase it. They soon begin to settle in to their new lives and in time Marin becomes mystified by a photograph she sees of a young, unidentified woman who was standing in her little home's walled garden with a butterfly on her fingertips, a yearning man in the background. Who were these two people of over a century ago with the odd expressions, she wonders, and what was going on in their lives?

Eleanor Sanderson has lost her brother to war and she's devastated. She so loved her brother Walter, and the news of his death is almost too much for her to bear. Her brother's friend James has returned physically unharmed by the war, but emotionally he's a different man, a man who no longer seems interested in her sister, who he's promised to marry. Injured soldiers and dashed hopes permeate everyone's existence in Cumberland, and Eleanor struggles with feelings of hopelessness. She makes up her mind to have the vicarage garden recultivated, along with the walled garden by the little house on the property where her grandmother Elizabeth resides, Bower House, to especially inspire blind soldiers with fragrant blooms that will hopefully lift their spirits; and the gardener, Jack Taylor, is just the man to help her do it. Jack has experience with the war, but Eleanor is intrigued by the way he seems able to cope, not like her brother-in-law James. As a forbidden relationship begins to develop, secrets are uncovered and Eleanor's life will change even further.

The two stories ultimately converge since the houses in both time periods are the same. This is referred to as a time slip novel, and I don't know how Katharine Swartz does it every time, but she's masterful at writing this type of novel. I've enjoyed all of her stories in this particular format, and The Lost Garden was no exception. Both stories held my interest and the setting was one that I always enjoy, England. I highly recommend The Lost Garden, and I hope there will be a book 3 in the Tales from Goswell series.

Thank you Library Thing and Lion Fiction for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given. ( )
  Lauigl | Jun 21, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A little predictable, but I like The Secret Garden aspect. Though it really, really did remind me of The Secret Garden at times. It bounces back and forth between two time periods, which I'm not really a fan of. I much preferred the modern story. If you like typical romance stories, you'll like this. I appreciate that it didn't have sex scenes in it. ( )
  LSS312 | Jan 6, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
For some reason I could not really get into this book. I tried to read it. There is nothing wrong with the story, but apparently this isn't the time for me to finish the book. It may be because the story began with an apparent suicide which really did not resonate with me. I kept reading and actually have read nearly half of the book, but each time I picked it up it was out of a sense of duty. Please do not judge this book on my experience with it. You may really like it and enjoy it. I may pick it up in a few years and love it, too. Just not now. ( )
  Auj | Sep 26, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Intertwined are 2 stories that take place in the same location but almost a century apart. The setting is the vicarage in the picturesque village of Goswell, West Cumberland, England. The focus is the garden at the grandma house that once held beautiful flowers before WWI turned it's use into a vegetable garden. Now it lies full of weeds and thistles, waiting for the next gardener to restore it to its former beauty. Both stories urge the reader to look below the surface, as things are not always as they seem.
Marin Ellis, who has already lost her mother, now must face the lost her estranged father and his second wife to a car accident. She is not prepared to become guardian to her fifteen-year-old half-sister Rebecca, twenty-two years her junior. On a whim they settle in Goswell, where the door to an abandoned walled garden catches Rebecca's interest and Marin's determination to open. So many new experiences! But how can Marin maintain her simple life with a moody, loud teenager? And what about local gardener Joss Fowler, who has begun to uncover the garden's surprising secrets and Marin's too?
In 1919, young Eleanor Sanderson, daughter of the local vicar, is grieving the loss of her only brother, Walter. When her mood turns bleak, her father hires someone to help Ellie restore the garden. He hires a gardener with a past to hide and their relationship becomes unsuitable. Her older sister, Katherine, is hiding truths too. She secretly helps blinded war veterans learn to type. Her fiance, James, is cold and distant after returning from the war, making the date of their wedding a questionable event.
The ending was surprising to me. I'm not sure I like it. On the whole, the book is enjoyable and kept me wanting to turn the next page. I recommend it.
This title is the second volume of Katharine Swartz's series "Tales of Goswell." ( )
  KS_Library | Sep 14, 2015 |
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Dedicated to my grandfather Major Norman Albert Thompson of the First Canadian Expeditionary Force, who fought bravely in the First World War from 1915 to 1918.
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The rain lashes against the windows and the sky is dark with lowering clouds as she gazes out at the lawn now awash in puddles and steeped in mud.
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Present and past residents of a countryside English vicarage search for love.

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