“In essence, being alive is a bloody long and hard walk to death. Why not make it as pleasant along the way as you can?”
The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley is an interesting novel, to be sure. I read one of her books last year, The Girl on the Cliff, and really enjoyed it so I thought I would give another one of her books a shot. It is similar to The Girl on the Cliff, in that it has flashbacks and interesting connections between characters. At the same time, however, I found this one was entirely different. Now, I know this is a different book, but at the same time…well, let me tell you about it.
The Lavender Garden details the story of a powerful French family, money, espionage, secrets, and the war. We switch from “present” time when Emilie de la Martinières is inheriting her family’s legacy (so to speak), to the past, where we get to read about the story Emilie uncovers for ourselves.
The writing quality is, once again, quality. While it is sophisticated writing and it does contain lots of details, it was easy for me to follow the path of the story and try connecting with the characters. I say try here because, while I found the characters were realistic, I also did not connect with them in the same way as I have other characters. I was not heartbroken by any sad things that happen, nor was I super joyful about any of the happy events. Was the story engaging? Sure. I enjoyed reading about the secrets and their reveals.
I think the downside of this book was probably the fact I was not as invested in the characters as I could have been. I think what this did was make it harder for me to get into the story. I did become engaged, but every time I stopped reading and came back to it later, I often found I had to re-engage. Since that took time, it was always stop and go. Had I been hooked right away, I think I would have read for longer periods, which in turn would have reduced the need for me to re-engage with the story.
With that said, I found the last third (half? I did not calculate when it started) really stepped it up for me. It was as if all the pieces were coming together in amazing ways. As I read, it was like things I had suspected earlier in the book but never really gave too much attention to were coming true. The good part about this was the feeling was not one of disappointment, which is what usually happens when I figure out pieces of the story before they happen. I think The Lavender Garden does a great job at making me brush my thoughts away and forget them until later.
In any case, I think The Lavender Garden is certainly worth your reading time. It gives an interesting insight into the war and depicts a fantastic family and human element. Even if it takes you time to really get into the story, I would stick around for this one. I did not regret it, and I would be confident in saying you will not regret it either. If you do read it, let me know what you think below!
Title: The Lavender Garden
Author: Lucinda Riley
Publisher: Simon and Schuster