If you like captivating and compelling historical fiction, The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly should be on your to-read list. This novel explores themes including love, loss, hope and friendship and its plot unwinds over three different time periods.
In 1907, Venetia has been hired by the owners of the Highbury House, to design a series of extravagant gardens on its estate. When she gets there, she is well on her way to making a name for herself in garden planning, but catering to the whims of the overbearing lady of the house threatens to ruin Venetia’s plans.
In 1944, the English countryside has become home to many land girls who are helping farmers produce food for the war effort, and Highbury House has been conscripted by the British forces to serve as a military hospital. The house is now owned by Diana Symonds, a young widow who feels like her life is out of her control. Diana’s only consolations are her beautiful son Robyn and the time she spends in her home’s lavish gardens, which she can no longer afford to maintain.
In 2021, Emma has been hired to breathe new life into the very same gardens, now very neglected and barely recognizable. Emma has longed to work on anything originally designed by the long-ago famous and secretive Venetia Smith and is thrilled when she’s picked to restore the grounds of Highbury House to what Venetia intended them to be. As Emma sets out to discover the garden’s original plans, secrets from the past begin to unravel, connecting these three women in unexpected ways.
Like a flower opening to reveal its beauty, this book is one to savor as it captures the lives and dreams of the very different yet strong women whose lives are bound by this special garden. If you are looking for inspiration to start picking out your backyard plants (or if you just want a fabulous read), pick up The Last Garden in England.