The Lavender Garden — Lucinda Riley
I have to preface this review with saying I love reading stories about WWII. Not about the fighting or the war itself, but of the people and how they reacted to it. How did the people survive? What happened which was crucial to how they lived their lives and did they sit back and take it, or did they fight back? How did their lives change? (A great novel to read, which I had to read for a class in college, is Suite Francasie by Irene Nemirovsky. It is a masterful story of the period.)
Lucinda Riley’s novel is both a WWII novel concerning the French Resistance and about a young woman finding her identity through the telling of her father’s involvement with the Resistance and the recent death of her mother. Emilie returns to the chateau she loved after her mother’s death to decide what she is going to do now with her parents’ belongings and the houses they owned (her father having died years earlier).
During this time she meets Sebastian who is an art dealer and who always happens to be there to help her with decisions which need to be made. Eventually, the two decide to marry, and it is found out that Emilie’s father and Sebastian’s Grandmother were both part of the Resistance during the war. Even though Seb is English.
Emile finds out her father’s story through a family friend who runs the vineyard on the land which belongs on the chateau. She learns of how Seb’s Grandmother Constance found herself in France even though she lived most of her live in England and how she helped Edoaurd, Emilie’s father.
This book grabbed me at the beginning and I did not want to stop reading until I had heard the whole story and then I wanted to know more of what happened. I felt so connected to the characters by the end of the story I wanted to learn about other parts of their lives. For me this is definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year.
**** (Four Stars)