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The Lavender Garden: A Novel Paperback – June 11, 2013
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When Emilie de la Martinieres, the sole surviving member of an aristocratic French family, returns to her childhood home to settle her mother’s estate, she expects to confront a number of long-buried memories. She never expects to meet Sebastian, a charming young art dealer with an all-too-perfect connection to her family. As Emilie’s relationship with Sebastian deepens, more questions about her family’s history begin to surface. With sections alternating between Emilie’s discoveries in 1998 at the family estate and the time her grandmother spent in 1944 in Paris, The Lavender Garden is a sweeping, engrossing work. Riley is talented, delighting in the small details of aristocratic luxury and the pastoral countryside. The sections focusing on Emilie’s grandmother, a young clerk working as an undercover agent for the Allied cause in Nazi-occupied Paris, are particularly engaging. The heroines of The Lavender Garden struggle to master circumstances seemingly beyond their control, a common thread in Riley’s work. A tale of family secrets, wartime espionage, and loyalties gained and gambled, The Lavender Garden will appeal to fans of historical fiction, Kate Morton, and Helen Bryan. --Stephanie Turza
"A tale of family secrets,wartime espionage, and loyalties gained and gambled, The Lavender Garden will appeal to fans of historical fiction, Kate Morton, and Helen Bryan." (Booklist)
“A magnificent novel…enchanting and full of heart.” (Naples Daily News)
"A sweeping, engrossing work... Engaging." (Booklist)
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It switches abruptly to Yorkshire in midwinter, a house on the snow covered moors which bears a distinct resemblance to Rochester Hall, albeit with a mad drunken paraplegic brother in the east wing, rather than the mad wife in the attic.
In addition is a fairly trite WW2 resistance in France story with obligatory unhappy ending from which obligatory good things eventually come.
I found the story stilted, and the plot changes were telegraphed with all the finesse of an elephant stampeding through the jungle. It was not hard to guess how it ended.
Meh sums it up nicely.
Emilie de la Marinieres finds herself the sole inheritor of a grand chateau in southern France, the death of her Mother has evoked many feelings for her, not all of them good, and many of them very painful. Emilie has always distanced herself from her Mother and has been living a very ordinary life in Paris. As Emilie begins to sort through her family affairs, she discovers a notebook of poems, written by her Father's sister Sophia. Sophia was never spoken about and is something of a mystery, as Emilie begins to dig deeper into the family secrets she become more and more involved in the past.
Back in 1943, Constance Carruthers has been chosen to become part of the Special Operations Executive, she's an ordinary office worker, newly married to a husband who has been missing in action since almost the beginning of the war. After intense training, Constance finds herself in occupied France on a dangerous mission that could cost her her life.
Constance finds herself caught up in a complex situation masterminded by Edouard de la Mariniers, and so the connection between the two families begins.
Back in the modern day story, Constance's grandson Sebastian has appeared, and he and Emilie become closer and closer. Does Sebastian know more than he is admitting to?
I became really emotionally attached to these characters, although I did find Emilie's story a little slow in the beginning, everything soon began to move at a very quick pace and the connections to Constance's war-time story were riveting.
Churchill's Special Operations Executive programme was completely new to me, a part of the war that I knew nothing about and I found the details entralling.
This novel really is a joy to read, expertly woven together and mixing social history with family dramas and love and relationships - the perfect blend.
This is not a "sexy" story. There is a scene of two people that love / need each other do make love. There is an execution and rape scene, both are disturbing. A character is taken by the Nazis while traveling and never heard of again. There is some other violence, it's war. I was disappointed when I came to an end, in a good way.
I did read another book by Lucinda Riley, The Orchid House. I enjoyed and have recommended both books.