Wednesday 17 May 2023

Guest Review: A Secret Garden Affair by Erica James

July 1981. As the country prepares to celebrate Prince Charles’ wedding to Lady Diana, Libby wants to be as far away from royal wedding fever as possible.

Having caught her own fiancé in bed with her best friend just weeks before they were due to marry, she’s fled London for the comfort of the Suffolk countryside.

At Larkspur House, with its magical garden created by renowned garden designer and one-time socialite Elfrida Ambrose, and its comfortingly familiar kitchen presided over by Libby’s great-aunt Bess, she hopes to find a way to put her life back together.

But for lifelong friends Bess and Elfrida, Libby’s arrival has stirred up the ghosts of the past. And before they can help her rebuild her shattered future, they must confront their own unspoken secrets, lost loves, and tragedies…

I have read quite a number of books by Erica James and always found them full of interesting characters with detailed storylines. This latest book has a beautiful cover, promising a visit to at least one stunning garden and perhaps a journey back in time. It certainly had me captivated from the start and I found myself on an interesting journey that took me to a variety of locations along the way. 

At the beginning of the story, we meet Libby, whose life has suddenly taken a major change of direction after she found her fiancé in bed with her best friend just days before their wedding. It is July 1981, and Libby wants to leave behind London, with the frenzy of anticipation for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. She escapes to Larkspur House, the Suffolk home of her great aunt Bess and famous garden designer Elfrida Ambrose. Bess was originally employed as Elfrida’s maid, but the two have become firm friends over the years. As Libby tries to decide on the shape of her future, she spends some time exploring the house and unearths various objects from the past that stir up memories for the two older ladies as they reflect on their adventures over the years. 

This is a powerfully-written book that I enjoyed immensely, even though I, unlike the author, am no gardener. There are frequent references to garden design and plants throughout the story. Elfrida has been a gardener of some renown, trailblazing the way for other ladies when working in a garden was not the ‘done thing’ for the fairer sex. I enjoyed the way in which the storyline wandered between recollections of Elfrida and Bess’s lives from the 1920s onward, prompted by items found in a trunk in the attic, and present-day events with Libby. Not all of the memories are pleasant for the ladies, some heartbreaking to read about. Elfrida’s enduring romance with a Russian count was a wonderful story in itself. As with most of the Erica James books I have read, family is very much central to the characters’ lives, rifts in relationships causing anxiety for each of them. However, there are surprises in store for some of them that I could not have predicted and shocked me as well as the characters themselves. I can definitely recommend this highly emotional family drama.

To order your copy now, just click here!

No comments:

Post a Comment