The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley

the lavender gardenI received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Lavender Garden is a dual time narrative that plays off in wartime France and tells the stories of two women, namely Emilie de la Martinières and Constance Carruthers. After the death of her mother in 1998, Emilie is the only living member of the aristocratic de la Martinières family.  She inherits the family fortune, including their Paris house and a beautiful château in the south of France, but unfortunately for Emilie, her mother also left her with debt. She decides to sell the Paris house and use the money to restore the grandeur of the old château.

One day she meets the man she is to be married to, an art dealer called Sebastian. During their first conversation she learns that there is a connection between Sebastian’s grandmother and her family, but what exactly is this connection? She asked the man who has lived and worked for her family, Jacques, about Sebastian’s grandmother, Constance.  With this she learns about her father’s involvement with the French resistance during the war, that he was a hero, but she also learns more about her aunt, Sophia, who her father, Eduoard, never spoke about… and why

1944 – Constance, also called Connie, was a 25 year old woman living in London who was sent to France as an SOE agent. Upon her arrival in Paris, she finds herself living with Emilie’s father and his sister, Sophia, after she ended up on their doorstep. She never got to do what she was trained for, but had to protect Eduoard and keep his involvement with the French Resistance a secret. He entertained German officers to extort information from them. During Jacques retelling of the past, we learn the secrets of the de la Martinières family. We learn the connection between the two families, apart from the fact that Connie stayed there. In his story, we learn that although Connie was spared the danger her colleagues was submitted to, she had her own horrific  experience. Although not explicitly described, it was an incident that shocked, but something that I imagined definitely happened during that  time. I felt sorry for her and of course I delighted in the fact that later on, she did get her revenge.

The Lavender Garden is the first novel I’ve read by Lucinda Riley and I can without a doubt say that I am now a fan! I love dual time narratives in historical fiction, and this one did not disappoint. The two stories are well blended together, with information and shocking family secrets slowly revealed throughout the novel. I loved both Connie and Emilie’s story. There are some revelations which I could foresee coming, such as Sebastian not being what he seems, which Emilie soon learns after they got married. There is something about Sebastian that didn’t sit right with me from his very first appearance in the novel.  My favourite character has to be Emilie, I could completely understand her confusion and insecurity, but I did love almost all the characters in the book for various reasons: Constance’s bravery and determination, Eduoard’s passion and loyalty for his country and then Jacques, who is the embodiment of a loyal and good friend.

This is a great tale of love, loss, pain and bravery. I loved this novel and I would recommend that you read it!

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  • Wow, this does sound good. The cover and the title look like a type of book I wouldn’t read, but your review is great. I really want to find out what happens!

    • If I started this on a weekend I was at home most, I would definitely have finished it. I kept wishing during work hours that I could find time to read, even if it had to be at my desk. I just wanted to know what happens next! It really was such a good read! 🙂

  • This sounds great. Have a friend who just asked me for an historical book recommendation…this will be it!

  • This sounds really good! I really like the dual narrative thing, and historical fiction is my faaaaaaaave!

    • I love historical fiction too! I promise this was a good read.

  • Sounds like a beautiful book, set in a interesting period of time. It looks like a book I could like!

    Kind regards,

    • I love the setting – Paris, London and the South of France 🙂
      I think you will like it, Bettina!

  • Historical fiction appeals to me because I learn something as I’m entertained. The cover looks inviting too!

    • That’s one of the reasons why I like historical fiction. I’ve learned so much about war time Europe, more than I could have learned in high school history class 🙂

      I hope you will consider reading this one, Marian.

  • I read…whatever the book was called, and I enjoyed it 🙂

    • I’m going to guess it’s a Zafon, but which one?

  • I love dual timeline stories! The only thing is, usually one of the storylines is much much better than the other one, and you end up being impatient with the less good one. That didn’t happen here?

    • Not for me, but I know what you mean. In some other books I’ve been impatient with certain parts because I like the other time period’s story more, but at the end it ties together. This one was actually Emilie (in present time) who wanted to know about the past and Jacques having to tell her. Every time he did the story switches to Connie as narrative in 1944, which is fab because reading it from her perspective is better than reading how Jacques might have narrated it.

  • Sounds like a great read. Will have to add it to my list. Thanks for the review

    • It was! Hope you enjoy it.

  • Great review! I really enjoyed this one, too. I was excited to read it since reading The Orchid House. Now I think I’ll read anything she writes. 😉

    • Which one did you like more? I really want to read The Orchid House now! 🙂

  • I’m glad you enjoyed this book. I read it not long ago and just loved the dual time period and beautiful setting, although my copy was entitled The Light Behind the Window.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I remember reading somewhere that in the UK it is called “The Light Behind the Window”.

  • This book sounds good, and I’m starting to realize how much you enjoy reading historical fiction!

    • Absolutely love it, as long as there are not TOO much history in it, sometimes that takes away from the story. I think you will enjoy this, because even though the story goes back to 1944, there aren’t many history it in.

  • I’m so glad you liked it! I read her other books and while The Orchid House was amazing The Girl on the Cliff fell flat. Maybe this will be the 2 out of 3 I need to stay a fan 🙂

    • Yes! I think you should read this one, Allison 🙂

  • Ooh this does sound good – great review! I will definitely read this. I loved the light behind the window so I will certainly be buying this one!

    • I think it’s the same book 🙂
      It is called “The Light Behind the Window” in the UK, I just googled the descriptions of the book and it is in fact the exact same.

  • Sounds like a lovely book, another reviewer raved about it as well. Considering history was my worst and most dreaded subject as a kid, I sure do enjoy historical fiction now. Hope you will stop by and link up one of your posts to my Small Victories Sunday linkup!

    • It was a good read, Tanya. Thanks for telling me about the link-up, I will definitely participate. I did okay in history class :).

  • I read this book over the summer and inhaled it! I loved it so much. So happy that you enjoyed it also!

    • Yay! Now I want to read The Orchid House, have you read it?

  • We are rating The Lavender Garden on our blog this week. I hope you will vote!

    • I sure will, Susan. Thanks for letting me know.

  • This is my favorite of all her books.

    I will stop by to vote, Susan.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog

    • Thanks for the reminder! I’m glad you enjoyed The Lavender Garden, Elizabeth.

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  • Isi

    How glad I am that you liked it, Mel!
    The story sounds fantastic, since I LOVE family secrets and novels set in two different times – it’s my thing together with romantic plots 😀

    • I think you will love this one Isi. You know why? Because there is some romance in there! The “love at first sight, I would die for you” kind of story. I never give away too much about the book in my reviews, but thought you might like to know this 🙂

      BTW, this is also the book YOU picked out for me to read next!

      • Isi

        Yes, I remember! 😀
        I supposed I was thinking “well, I might like this book, but just in case, let’s say Mel to read it and see if it’s worth giving it a try” hehehe
        Love at first sight, die for each other… ¡¡¡¡ I need it !!!!

  • I’ve been meaning to read this one — will have to bump it up the TBR list 🙂

    • Hope you will enjoy it, Christine!

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