Deborah Lawrenson’s The Sea Garden is a haunting and mysterious story set in the south of France. Actually it is three stories that are interlaced taking place over several decades from present day to events that took place in France near the end of World War II.
Review of The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson
Right from the start the book takes on an air of menace and mystery on the beautiful French island of Porquerolles. A young garden designer, Ellie Brooke visits the home of an elderly woman to discuss a commission. Her remit is to create a memorial garden – the Sea Garden. Ellie is already suffering from the loss of her partner and a dramatic event on the boat trip to the island colours her visit from the start. The family prove to be strange and they are not all friendly – will she stay and fulfil the beautiful garden design she can see in her mind?
In the second part of the book, set in the lavender fields of Provence at the end of World War II, the story of Marthe Lincel is uncovered. The young blind woman lives with a family of perfume makers in Provence – they are also members of the Resistance. Marthe who has a special talent for scents is drawn into events when tragedy strikes and her help is needed to save lives though for some it seems, it is too late.
The third story is of Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London. Her duties involve preparing agents to go to France and she falls for one of them, a handsome and confident young Frenchman who is lost after landing in the lavender fields of Provence. After the War, Iris searches for him but is never able to discover what happened to the man she loved – will she be left with only memories?
At the end the stories are brought together with several twists that I never saw coming at all.
Love, loss, murder, mystery, ghostly and gorgeous – if you like dark, compelling and haunting stories with deliciously rich descriptions of Provence, The Sea Garden is the perfect read.
About the author: Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is married with a daughter and lives in Kent, England. She and her family spend as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, France, the setting for her novel The Lantern and inspiration for The Sea Garden.