THE LAVENDER GARDEN, by Lucinda Riley, is just superb! Riley’s first book was THE ORCHID HOUSE. It was wonderful.
It’s 1998; we’re on LaCote d’Azur. We’re in the south of France. Emilie de la Martinieres has just inherited a magnificent chateau and vineyard that’s been in her family for years and years. She’s also inherited a pile of debt. Now that her mother has passed, she’s the last of the line. She’s got a whole lot of thinking to do. And secrets are popping up all over.
This novel takes place in two time periods. One is 1998, in France. The other is 1944 during the Nazi occupation of France. France is not the only locale. Plenty of this magnificent novel takes place on the moors of England, and in London.
There are so many characters endearing themselves to us in this novel. But two stand out, by far. Emilie is the star. She has to decide what to do with her mom’s Paris flat. And whether or not to keep the chateau. You see, it’s not just her that will be affected by her choice. Other lives must be taken into consideration. The family who’ve been the caretakers of the vineyard have lived their forever. The housekeeper at the chateau has lost her husband to the war. She’s a single mother with a son to raise on her own. These people rely on Emilie for their livelihood.
Putting aside everything else, there’s the mystery. And when a handsome Englishman arrives on the scene, Emily decides to trust him. After all, she’s taken on a mountain of a project. And he’s offered his help. But at what cost? And she knows so little of his life in England. I kept wanting to reach out and tell her to back off.
Then there’s Constance Carruthers. It’s 1944 and Constance is chosen to work with England’s Special Ops during the climax of the war. She’s to enter Paris secretly and work at the top of the resistance. After extensive training in England and Scotland Constance finally arrives in Paris. But, nothing is as expected. And the real story begins. Who is Constance? And how is she connected to the de la Martinieres family?
You are going to find yourself riveted to this novel. It gets more intense by the chapter. Each chapter is moved back and forth in time and deals with either Emilie or Constance. This intensifies the intrigue.
I especially enjoyed reading about the chateau’s priceless library. I found myself quite intrigued with this enormous library full of fabulous books that are both rare and valuable. It was a real nice addition to the story. This amazing library collection belonged to Emilie’s father who we find was more involved in the war than his family even knew. In fact, he is a big part of the mystery.
Yes, this story involves WWII. And I try not to read too many of these since there are so many. But, this is one of those times when it is well worth it. Some of the espionage is both fascinating and unusual. I bet you will learn new stuff here. I did.
I found myself totally enmeshed in Lucinda Riley’s delightful new novel. One moment I was in Paris, the next in a chateau in the south of France, then on to London. Just enchanting. And full of heart.
I did not find any of this candy-coated. The war-time scenes are totally believable. It makes me realize once again how lucky we are here in America.
Do get yourself a copy of this novel. It’s available in trade paper, right now.
Atria, a division of Simon and Schuster sent me a copy yesterday. So now I have my own. Thanks so much. It will be coming along on my lectures this season.