The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz

In old historic homes and properties, I have always wished that “walls could talk” and this book fits the bill!  Marin Ellis, a 37 year old, single, introvert, unexpectedly finds herself the guardian of Rebecca, her 15 year old half-sister after her father and step-mother suddenly die. The sisters have never met until the funeral. Marin decides to do some traveling so they might get to know each other better and just get away for a while.  They find themselves in the quaint seaside town of Goswell, England.  Rebecca falls in love with a Victorian home and begs her sister to buy it.  Wanting a fresh start for both of them, she agrees. The home was built in 1905 by a previous vicar for his mother-in-law.  So they take the leap into this new adventure and leave the states to relocate.  Along with the house is an old enclosed, overgrown garden.  At first, Rebecca is excited about reviving it, but after she loses interest, Marin is drawn to it and begins the laborious work to restore it.

Now flash back to 1918 and 19 year old Eleanor Sanderson.  Her father is the vicar and her grandmother is the one the house previously mentioned was built for. World War 2 has just ended and families are waiting for their boys and men to come home.  Eleanor is especially excited about her beloved brother, Walter’s return. They received news that he is dead and the grief is almost more than she can ear.  To try to move forward, she becomes interested in renewing the old vicarage garden that has been laid to waste. She wants to do it in her brother’s memory and also if or others who have lost loved ones.

The story goes back and forth between the two women’s lives.  Both had a strong desire for a fresh start.  Marin mourned of a relationship with her father she never had, and Eleanor the relationship with her brother she would never have again.

The author’s description of the U.S.A. after WW2 gave me a greater awareness and understanding of what our country and people faced. There weren’t many families that weren’t dealing with the death of a loved one.  The losses left a large gaping hole in the hearts of the people and the functioning of our nation with so many men gone. The men that did return were drastically changed by the horrors they experienced and the guilt that they made it home and their buddies didn’t. Through Ms. Swartz’s skillful writing I experience what those before me faced in a very personal way.

There was also a great contrast in what was important during the 2 different eras, and how relationships with families, men and women so drastically differed. What was considered the latest and best in homes and appliances during the 1900’s were more of a hardship in the present day. Marin’s frustrations and struggles in handling the antiquated home were humorous at times.

I was fascinated by two women facing finding themselves, experience loss, adjusting to change, learning to love and forgive, but more than 100 years apart. Seeing how each dealt with this according to tradition and what society dictated during their time in history.  The author did an excellent job of intertwining the two stories. It was never confusing or awkward.  Full of surprises and a great read!

I received this book free from Kregel Publications.  I was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have shared are my own.  



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