Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Guest Review: The Garden of Forgotten Wishes by Trisha Ashley

All Marnie wants is somewhere to call home. Mourning lost years spent in a marriage that has finally come to an end, she needs a fresh start and time to heal. Things she hopes to find in the rural west Lancashire village her mother always told her about.
With nothing but her two green thumbs, Marnie takes a job as a gardener, which comes with a little cottage to make her own. The garden is beautiful – filled with roses, lavender and honeysuckle – and only a little rough around the edges. Which is more than can be said for her next-door-neighbour, Ned Mars.
Marnie remembers Ned from her school days but he’s far from the untroubled man she once knew. A recent relationship has left him with a heart as bruised as her own.
Can a summer spent gardening help them heal and recapture the forgotten dreams they’ve let get away?


Review: I always look forward to reading a new book by Trisha Ashley; they are always full of interesting characters and situations. For returning readers, her books very often contain familiar characters too, which I always enjoy. This book is one of many set in a small Lancashire village and does indeed contain a few faces that I recognised from her last novel. I found it a quick but absorbing read.

The story revolves around Marnie, who has been living and working as a gardener in France for a few years, travelling around to avoid her controlling ex-husband. When it seems that he has turned his affections towards another unfortunate woman, Marnie decides to leave France and takes up a position as gardener in the little Lancashire village of Jericho’s End, once her mother’s home. The job comes with a small but cosy flat above an ice cream shop which is attached to a cottage inhabited by two rather eccentric sisters and a very large ginger cat who takes a liking to Marnie. While looking after the cottage garden, Marnie’s duties also involve helping to restore the large garden of the manor house next door. She is surprised to find that the large house and grounds belong to an old college friend, Ned, now a successful garden designer. After a somewhat rocky start, Marnie and Ned find common ground in their interest in the plants and the secrets that the overgrown garden gives up as they work. There are other surprises in store for Marnie as she settles into the job and life in the village, not all of them pleasant.

As I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed this book; another hit for Trisha Ashley. The setting in this tranquil village with the river running through and the picturesque falls with the promise of fairies and angels left me feeling peaceful each time I read. However, the pace of the story quickened towards the end, when there was a great deal of drama all within a few pages. I liked Marnie as a character and enjoyed her ability to stand up to the somewhat moody Ned. I found him a bit annoying to start with, but he grew on me as the story progressed. I was intrigued by the cat in the story; his colour and great size were unusual. He was quite a formidable character with definite ideas of his place in the world. As well as the drama, romance and hint of magic, the book has quite a bit of humour in its pages, the old ladies living in the cottage providing a large proportion. They enjoy experimenting with new ice cream flavours, and there is an interesting selection of recipes at the end of the book for those readers possessing an ice cream maker. I can definitely recommend this book to other readers; if not familiar with Trisha Ashley’s work, this would make a good place to start.


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