"The Lost Garden" is a very dear story, told with fine attention to detail. It's a story broad enough to contain the troubles of life and to show the tenderness of love. It may wrench your heart a bit, but it will put it back in place stronger than it was before.
Two sets of sisters, living in the same place, but one hundred years apart. Eleanor and Katherine right after the Armistice in 1919, and Marin and Rebecca in modern times. Both pairs are dealing with loss, trying to feel their way back to something good and safe and lasting.
Their stories connect when Marin finds a lost garden and feels an urge to restore it. It was a similar urge- to work with her hands and her imagination to create a sanctuary space- that led Eleanor to establish the garden in the first place.
The first half of this book moves deliberately and without a wasted moment, much the way you begin a garden. You work carefully, with a goal in mind, and every step you take matters later in the season.
Then, mid-way through, the story gains sudden intensity (everything begins to flower and fruit, as it were) and the final half had me riveted.
Both lives- Eleanor's and Marin's- were drawn so carefully. I could see their hearts, and in one or two spots I could feel their emotions. I recognized myself in them as they looked at the world and wondered how they could make a good life.
I'm delighted to add this book to my shelf beside Swartz's earlier novel, "The Vicar's Wife."
I thank Kregel for providing me with a review copy.