Monday, September 2, 2013

Julie's Review: The Lavender Garden

Summary: The internationally bestselling author of The Orchid House takes readers from Nazi-occupied Paris to the contemporary glamour of the Cote D’Azur in an emotionally gripping novel of love, duty, and desire.
With her dazzling novels The Orchid House and The Girl on the Cliff, Lucinda Riley effortlessly transported readers between distant times and locations and earned accolades from reviewers and readers around the world. In The Lavender Garden, her most powerful novel so far, she tells the mesmerizing tale of heroism and betrayal inside an aristocratic French family across half a century.
Le Cote d’Azur, 1998: In the south of France, Emilie de la Martinieres finds herself the sole inheritor of her childhood home, a magnificent chateau and vineyard. With the house comes a mountain of debt — and almost as many questions: What was the purpose of the secret room she finds hidden beneath the wine cellars? Why did her beloved father never speak of his decorated service in Word War II? Why has Emilie always felt at odds with her own family background? Paris, 1944: A British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from the Resistance, she stumbles into a socially prominent family who entertains members of the German elite even as they plot to liberate France. In a city rife with collaborators and Resistance members, Constance’s most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart. As Emilie discovers what really happened to her family during the war and finds a connection to Constance much closer than she suspects, the chateau itself may provide clues that can unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future.

Review: If you read a lot you know that sometimes books get pushed off and pushed off into the TBR pile. That's what happened with The Lavender Garden for me. I'm only happy to say that I'm so glad that I finally read it. It is an engrossing novel about the secrets families keep that end up coming to the surface eventually.

Emilie de la Martinieres is the last in the line of her family since her mother died. She is alone and lonely when she meets Sebastian Carrauthers who sweeps her off her f eet. Instead of selling the family chateau, she decides to restore it. After all it has been in her family for over 200 years and she finds herself being pulled back into the lure of it. As she begins to find out more about her family, specifically her father, she is beginning to see how extraordinary her family truly.

It is through the eyes of Constance that we truly learn what a hero Eduard was during the Resistance. It is also Constance who is the hero as well. She risked her life and her soul to help the de la Martinieres towards the end of the war.

I really don't think I'm doing this book justice because Ms. Riley does such a superb job of a nuanced story that is strung together very well. She even lets you believe your thoughts are true until the end when she twists is all around. The characters are intriguing and some of them mysterious. I knew Sebastian wasn't on the up and up. While I thought Emilie was weak, I understood why she might be the way she was based on her childhood. I was also thrilled when she grew a backbone.

I loved reading about how active the British were in the French Resistance because I don't think I knew that or if I did I had forgotten.

It is easy to get swept up in this novel about sorrow, love, hope, betrayal and happiness. If you are looking for a WWII novel, then look no further than The Lavender Garden.

Final Take:  4.5/5

Thanks to Diana Franco at Atria for my copy of the novel.



Unknown September 8, 2013 at 11:28 PM  

I really enjoyed this book as well. I have liked all her books, actually.

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