Wednesday 26 December 2018

Guest Review: Gardens of Delight by Erica James

The Gardens of Delight brochure promises the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful gardens in the Lake Como area of Italy. For Lucy, the chance to go to Italy offers more than just gardens. Lake Como is where her father lives, and the last time she saw him was when she was just a teenager.
Recently married Helen and her wealthy husband have just moved into the Old Rectory. With her husband spending so much time away from home, Helen throws herself into caring for the garden. But Helen needs help - and friends - and so decides to take the plunge and join the local Garden Club.
Conrad isn't the least bit interested in gardening. Widowed for five years, his life revolves around work and humouring Mac, his elderly uncle who lives with him, and who has expressed a desire to go on the Gardens of Delight tour. Reluctantly, Conrad agrees to accompany him. 'Anything for a peaceful life,' he concedes. But a peaceful life is the last thing any of them are in for...

Review: I am a confirmed fan of Erica James's novels, and, having read all of her more recent work, I am now in the process of catching up on some of her older books. I found this particular one as an audiobook and have very much enjoyed listening to it over a few evenings. As with her other books I have read, this story has real depth and a marvellous cast of characters with a great deal going on in all their lives. 

The action takes place in two very different locations. The first is a quaint village, Swanmere in Cheshire. The other is Lake Como in Italy. The two places are linked by the fact that a group from the British village go on a gardens tour in the Lake Como area. The group varies widely in both age and personality. They include: Lucy, a young girl who works in a garden centre; Helen, a recently married lady new to the village; her businessman husband, Hunter; Conrad, a legal translator; Mac, Conrad's cantankerous uncle; Orlando, Lucy's best friend and flat mate; and Helen's difficult teenager stepdaughter, Savannah. Lucy's estranged father, Marcus, coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) lives very close to the town where the tour group are staying. As the gardens tour progresses, all kinds of secrets and surprises emerge and some relationships become increasingly strained.  

I found this a most enjoyable story from start to finish. The characters, although numerous, were all really strong, if not all likeable. Importantly for me, and possibly for other potential readers, there was not too much detail about plants and gardens. I love to look, but have no idea about the ins and outs of gardening. Having said that, through her writing, the author was able to transport me to this undoubtedly picturesque area of the world. There was a real flavour of Italy about the book, reminiscent of one of her other novels I read recently. There are quite a few twists and turns for the characters in the story, keeping everything interesting right to the end. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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