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Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Heart of the Garden by Victoria Connelly

Title:  The Heart of the Garden
Author: Victoria Connelly
Publisher: 22nd February 2018 by Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 350 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: mystery, romance
My Rating: 3 crowns

Morton Hall, with its beautiful, ruined grounds and its reclusive mistress, Emilia Morton, is full of mysteries. For freelance editor Anne Marie, the wild garden has become a serene and secret refuge from her loveless marriage. The only other regular visitor is Cape, the hall’s part-time gardener, who is forbidden to tend to anything except the magnificent maze or to meet his enigmatic employer.
When Emilia dies, Cape and Anne Marie are astonished to find themselves among an unlikely group of villagers named in her strange will. Morton Hall, including its dazzling art collection and once glorious grounds, can belong to the community forever, but only if they work together to bring the garden back to life within a single year.
As they try to put their differences aside to restore the tangled grounds, long-buried secrets are unearthed. Can the past be forgiven as hope and new love begin to bloom?
My Thoughts

‘I think a lot of people live with the decisions of others,’

This is an interesting little weekend read, especially so if you love your gardens and community projects. Here you will find three main storylines - two present and one past - for you to follow. So it has a little bit of everything and Victoria is always reliable in presenting heartwarming novels.

‘I can’t explain it, but I was drawn to this place. It made me feel calm. I love how a garden can do that – even one that’s neglected and unloved.’

‘Heart of the Garden’ has history and mystery, friendships and romance. Although the main characters are on individual journey’s of self discovery, the stronger theme is one of community and people coming together to recreate a beautiful garden and find solace and friendship in each other. The question is of course, why would this reclusive woman leave her wealthy home, gardens and valuable collections to a motley crew from the local village who have no prior acquaintance with either each other or the owner?

‘...this garden had the power to heal and it was her wish to pass that on to others.’

One thing that struck me as interesting, and did not sit comfortably with me if I am honest, is the romantic leads were already in relationships. I understand it happens, but for both to be already involved and the whole ‘falling into each other’s arms’ seemed a bit trite. I also struggled with Anne Marie’s sudden change from her subservient nature, seemingly overnight - it just would not happen. Indeed for both main leads, the explanation of their perspective change was not adequately elaborated upon.

‘I can’t believe your husband hasn’t noticed you’re unhappy.’

Even though a short read, it was at times, a bit slow and I was not completely happy with the ending finding some loose threads hanging. Waiting until the last ten percent of the novel for the action to begin is just too late. So overall, an easy escape tale of love lost and found all in an English maze.

‘Maybe she thought we all needed the release that gardening brings.’ Cape looked thoughtful. ‘I like it. I’ve always thought of gardening as a release too. A kind of therapy.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

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