When I read the blurb, I first thought of Vita Sackville-West and Sissinghurst, so I knew I must read it. I gave a silent prayer that it wouldn’t be riddled with titles and mangled forms of address or full of cliches of country house life. Thankfully, my prayers were heard.
The garden at the country estate, Highbury House, has had years of benign neglect. Designed by famed Edwardian garden designer Venetia Smith, it has endured two wars and endured the indignity of much of it being plowed up to grow turnips and sugar beets during World War II. Now present day garden designer has accepted the commission to bring it back to Venetia’s glorious design. With a young squire and his wife in place in the big house, wanting to restore the whole place to it’s Victorian and Edwardian glory, Emma must hope to the original plans and descriptions are buried somewhere in the house’s archives or storerooms. Meanwhile, a former Land Girl of the World War II era has left behind a few drawings that help. And, the mistress of the big house during the same time period has left a secret. With descendants still in place to help, will the garden be revived and the secrets uncovered?
This book was so enjoyable! Yes, there was a tiny stumble over a form of address, but it done by someone who had no association with the gentry. I could live with it. The richly drawn descriptions of the garden in all its phases made me almost smell the flowers. The triple timeline (yes, I’ve been very crabby about dual timelines lately) actually worked very well. I loved that it did not start with the cliche of finding granny’s old scrapbook, too. It was far better done than that. I wanted to marry Graham, board Charlie’s narrowboat (two books in one month mentioning narrowboats!) and be friends with everyone in the story.
4 Full Stars
So wonderful to find two new books in a row that fully lived up to their hype!
This would be a good period drama for PBS’s Masterpiece.