Title: The Lavender Garden
Author: Lucinda Riley
Format: Paperback, eBook and AudioBook
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical Fiction
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About the Book:
An aristocratic French family, a legendary château, and buried secrets with the power to destroy two generations torn between duty and desire.
La Côte d’Azur, 1998: In the sun-dappled south of France, Emilie de la Martinières, the last of her gilded line, inherits her childhood home, a magnificent château and vineyard. With the property comes a mountain of debt—and almost as many questions . . .
Paris, 1944: A bright, young British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent undercover to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from her contacts in the Resistance, she soon stumbles into the heart of a prominent family who regularly entertain elite members of the German military even as they plot to liberate France. But in a city rife with collaborators and rebels, Constance’s most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart.
As Emilie discovers what really happened to her family during the war and finds a connection to Constance much closer than she suspects, the château itself may provide the clues that unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future. Here is a dazzling novel of intrigue and passion from one of the world’s most beloved storytellers.
I had high hopes for this book from the description: a search of family history to define and refine your view of the present and your definition of self has great potential. Told in two timelines of present and past, the correlations and ultimate interrelation of the past and present begin to take shape and provide the very modern Emilie with answers and situations she never could have imagined.
It wasn’t until the book was finished and I was trying to gather my thoughts for review that I found the disconnection I felt towards Emilie fit her personality and the tone of her search. She is a reserved and often removed young woman, her version of self-preservation in her dealings with her mother. With the advent of her mother’s death, and her inheriting the family chateau and vineyards, her beliefs about her family and a hidden relative unlock a series of questions that need answering.
Simultaneously, there is the story of Constance, a British operative with the SOE, who takes refuge at the de la Martinières chateau. From here the dual approach of courting the Nazi’s for information while providing information to the French Resistance while trying to remain separate from the often-traitorous behaviors is detailed with clever storytelling and insertion of fact and fiction to provide a tension in that storyline that was as unexpected as it was clever.
By the end of the story, Emilie has many of her answers, and the reader is able to find the connections that seem more linear than originally thought. Although some of the conclusions seemed to be glossed over and conveniently solved and sorted, and there were far too many coincidental events that defied belief, the story was beautifully told.
I received an eBook from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:
Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and during her childhood travelled extensively abroad, particularly to the Far East to visit her father.
Moving to London she became an actress working in film, theatre and television. Five years ago she designed and built a house on the island of Koh Chang in Thailand, where her father had purchased land many years before. Her passion for history combined with her love of travel, and Thailand in particular, inspired her to write her novel Hothouse Flower, published by Penguin in November 2010.
She currently lives in Norfolk and France with her husband and four children.