The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

18635091I received this book from the publisher, HarperCollins, in exchange for an honest review.

I love dual narrative stories, but The Sea Garden gives you something unique, at least for me. It’s a triple narrative, but it doesn’t alternate between the three narratives. Instead, she gives us three novellas in one book that are interconnected in some way: The Sea Garden, The Lavender Field and A Shadow Life.

The Sea Garden tells the story of Ellie Brooke, a landscape/garden designer who travels to an island called Porquerolles to restore and re-design a memorial garden.  When Ellie gets there, something does not feel right, she finds her client a little eccentric and his mother is against her trying to restore the garden.  He makes friends with a war historian.

The Lavender Field plays off during WWII in France. Marthe Lincel is a young blind girl who works at a perfume factory in Provence.  She wasn’t always blind, but instead of being depressed, Marthe finds herself by using her senses to create extraordinary scents, while the owners of the factory are involved in the Resistance movement.

A Shadow Life is also set in WWII, but plays off in London. Iris Nightingale is an intelligence officer working for the SEO. She meets a French agent and falls in love with him, but he isn’t what he seems to be.  She falls pregnant before she could tell him, but after the war, she tries to find him – with no luck. She believes him to be dead, because what other explanation is there if he is not in London and neither returned to France as expected?

The author does a great job in connecting these stories. It is done slowly and towards the end of the novel is where you will find the most surprises, which is why A Shadow Life is my favourite novella of the three. I loved the descriptions of the settings – the lush landscape of Porquerolles and the beautiful and lush lavender fields of Provence. Even her descriptions of scents bring the senses to life and I loved how she brought the meaning of scent and memories into the story. Scent has such a wonderful way of taking you back into time, remembering fond memories. I would definitely recommend this novel. If you are a fan of war-time stories, I think that this novel (or collection of novellas) is a definite must-read. For me, this is a re-read.

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  • What a brilliant review. I had to go and see if I could bag myself a copy after reading this as it sounds just my kind of read. I want to see how the three novellas work together for myself plus it sounds like the author handles the description really well too.

    • I hope you like it! I definitely loved it. I’ve been reading such good ones lately.

      • I’m so excited, I’ve got a copy 🙂 thanks for drawing my attention to this one.

  • This sounds like another good one! I love wartime novels, and the unique format of 3 novellas sounds interesting!

  • I need to add this to my to-read list. The fact that it’s a WW2-era story already has me sold.

  • Loved your review – adding the title to my list.

  • Isi

    Sounds like a book I’d love, whit the three settings and the historical part. And yes, I’m a war fan too! Definitely, I’ll add this one to my list.

    • Quite a unique way of telling a story. I’m sure you will find it enjoyable, Isi

  • I read The Lantern by Lawrenson. The second novella, Lavender Fields reminds me of parts of The Lantern. I like that this is a collection of novellas. Great review.

    • Thank you. I still need to read The Lantern…

  • Collection of novellas, interesting, I’d like to read that

    • Interesting way of telling a story

  • momssmallvictories

    Interesting. I like how these novellas are intertwined. Thank you for sharing. It must be good for you to reread it.

    • I enjoyed it and might want to revisit this story. I feel that way about most WWII themed novels.

  • I’m so glad this worked. I loved Deborah Lawrenson’s last book but I was worried about the triple narrative, Now I must track down a copy.

    • I’ve heard about The Lantern being quite good too, so I should really add it to the list. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • I’m getting ready to start this one, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. It says a lot that you re-read it.

  • The last novella was my favorite too. The first one was too confusing for me, but I loved the way the author brought everything together at the end.

    • That was the best part, how she brought it together in the end. Then the first novella just made more sense.

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  • Sounds like an interesting read *runs of to goodreads*

    • I hope you find it interesting too