I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson
Published by Harper on June 24th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
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Also by this author: The Lantern
Romance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellas-rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere-from the critically acclaimed author of The Lantern
THE SEA GARDEN
On the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden's owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian …
THE LAVENDER FIELD
Near the end of World War II, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life . . . and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.
A SHADOW LIFE
Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?
Ingeniously interconnected, this spellbinding triptych weaves three parallel narratives into one unique tale of love, mystery, and murder. The Sea Garden is a vivid and absorbing chronicle of love and loss in the fog of war-and a penetrating and perceptive examination of the impulses and circumstances that shape our lives.
‘In this present hour, there was time for anything to happen, endless time.’
The Sea Garden contains three separate novellas that slowly intertwine together. The first novella shares the name of the title and is set in present day. The second and third novellas are all centered around the WWII era.
I became an instant fan of Deborah Lawrenson’s after her debut novel, ‘The Lantern‘ completely mesmerized me with its Rebecca-esque gothic story. It was clear she had a talent for the written word and I’ve been anxiously awaiting a new book from her. The Sea Garden presents a somewhat full-length novel, broke up into seemingly separate stories but have more in common than assumed. The Sea Garden novella is the present day story which brings to life a young woman named Ellie who is hired to construct a new WWII Memorial Garden. Her short visit is a disturbing one after the mother of the man that hired her is unkindly to her and after she believes to have seen ghosts in the Garden. The real heart of the story comes in the WWII stories that have an unexpected impact on Ellie’s life even after all that time has passed.
‘Thy word is a lantern unto my feet: and a light unto my path.’
I recognized and enjoyed the authors skillful writing yet found this story lacking in comparison to its predecessor. I found The Sea Garden to be for the most part too convoluted and lacking a clear and concise ending that wrapped up all loose ends. The affinity between the three tales was a little too slack and wasn’t as solid of a connection as I would expect with a multi-narrative tale such as this. Also, the odd supernatural aspects felt superfluous and too extravagant of an addition to this basic tale of history and its effects on everyone it touches. The writing was most pleasing but I would have appreciated this story more if the three novellas had stood on their own without the compulsory connection between them.