Book Review: The Lost Garden

22 Jul

51qMnO66npL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Present and past residents of a countryside English vicarage search for love.

Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident leaving her the guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister, Rebecca. They choose the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast and settle into Bower House, the former vicarage, on the edge of the 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.


291535719After spending three years as a diehard New Yorker, Katharine Swartz now lives in the Lake District with her husband, an Anglican minister, their five children, and a Golden Retriever. She enjoys such novel things as long country walks and chatting with people in the street, and her children love the freedom of village life—although she often has to ring four or five people to figure out where they’ve gone off to!

She writes women’s fiction as well as contemporary romance for Mills & Boon Modern under the name Kate Hewitt, and whatever the genre she enjoys delivering a compelling and intensely emotional story.


My Impressions:

Katharine Swartz takes her readers back to the small Cumbrian village of Goswell in her novel The Lost Garden. Contemporary and historical story lines intersect in this tale of love, grief and forgiveness. This novel is very British and will appeal to the Anglophile reader.

Marin finds herself the guardian of her 15-year old sister following the deaths of her father and step-mother. Awkward with relationships, Marin bravely faces making a home and life for Rebecca. After moving to Cumbria, Marin finds herself intrigued with a walled garden at the back of her property. She becomes determined to discover the secrets it and a photograph taken almost 100 years previous hold. Eleanor is the subject of the photograph, and her story of lost innocence and enduring love captures Marin and the reader’s imaginations.

Swartz’s characters are very realistic and relatable. Their hopes and fears, flaws and triumphs are well-written. She also does a great job making the setting an important part of the story. As Marin clears away the brambles that have overtaken the walled garden, suppressed emotions are exposed, griefs are revealed and forgiveness is offered. The grief expressed is more of what could have been rather than what has actually been lost — regrets over lost opportunities. The freedom found in taking responsibility is also expressed.

A rather quiet novel — there isn’t a lot of action — The Lost Garden will make the reader think. And in my case, want to hop on a plane and head to the windy coast of Cumbria!


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(I received this book courtesy of Lion Hudson and Kregel. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


2 Responses to “Book Review: The Lost Garden”

  1. heatherdaygilbert July 22, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Looks right up my alley–I like that it’s a “quiet novel” as those are some I enjoy best! Going on my To-Read list! BTW I love that cover!


    • rbclibrary July 22, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      Heather, check out the first novel set in Goswell — The Vicar’s Wife. It features the Americans living in the old vicarage and the vicar’s family that followed Eleanor’s family. Although both are standalones, I would start with The Vicar’s Wife.


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