Genre: Romance, chick lit
Publication date: 23rd February 2017 by Century
Format: eARC sent to me for review from Randomhouse UK, Cornerstone, Century, via Netgalley
Lorna is a talented gardener and Philly is a plantswoman. Together they work in the grounds of a beautiful manor house in the Cotswolds.
They enjoy their jobs and are surrounded by family and friends.
But for them both the door to true love remains resolutely closed.
So when Lorna is introduced to Jack at a dinner party and Lucien catches Philly’s eye at the local farmers market, it seems that dreams really can come true and happy endings lie just around the corner.
But do they?
Troublesome parents, the unexpected arrival of someone from Lorna’s past, and the discovery of an old and secret garden mean their lives are about to become a lot more complicated…
Another review courtesy of mum, she’s read pretty much all of Katie Fforde’s books and loves them!
A Secret Garden is set in the grounds of Burthen House, a beautiful Cotswold Manor owner by Peter and his formidable mother Anthea. The gardens are being restored by head gardener Lorna, who is middle-aged, divorced and a childhood friend of Peter. Needing assistance, Lorna enlists the help of Philly, a girl who has moved to the area from Ireland with her beloved grandfather Seamus and who now runs a small holding growing plants, which she sells on her market stall.
Lorna and Philly, together with Anthea, discover a secret garden within the grounds of the manor, which they set about restoring in time for Anthea’s birthday, hence the book’s title (although, strangely, this doesn’t happen until halfway through the book). All three women, despite being generations apart in age, form a strong friendship and the plot centres around, not only the restoration of the garden, but the path each of them takes to finding love. All three are strong, capable women and the characters are likeable, even if you do want to shake them from time to time!
Lorna, who initially thinks she’s in love with Peter but has to watch whilst he falls for someone else, meets Jack, attractive but younger than her. Philly meets Lucien, a chef who dreams of becoming an artisan baker. Both couples encounter obstacles along the way in order to be together. All three women have to overcome age or class barriers to find love.
The plot is warm, comfortable and interesting, if a little too predictable. The descriptions of the garden are lovely and the relationships between the characters sweet and gentle (particularly that of Philly and her grandfather).
To be honest, A Secret Garden lacks as much depth and excitement as some of Katie Fforde’s other novels but nonetheless is still a good story, full of gentle humour, romantic escapism and the required happy-ever-after ending. It is effortless to read, pleasantly entertaining and there is enough going on to keep you turning the pages.
Not a standout novel by Katie Fforde but still enjoyable.