This week I read the most delightful book entitled The Forbidden Garden by Ellen Herrick. We've been planning spring plantings all week, especially since we lost so much shrubbery during last year's drought, so the timing of reading this book couldn't be more perfect!
About The Forbidden Garden• Hardcover: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (April 4, 2017)
“Captivating [...] Herrick weaves a rich tapestry of family lore, dark secrets, and love.” —Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Fifth Petal
Perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Jio, comes a lush imaginative novel that takes readers into the heart of a mysterious English country garden, waiting to spring to life. Every garden is a story, waiting to be told…
At the nursery she runs with her sisters on the New England coast, Sorrel Sparrow has honed her rare gift for nurturing plants and flowers. Now that reputation, and a stroke of good timing, lands Sorrel an unexpected opportunity: reviving a long-dormant Shakespearean garden on an English country estate.
Arriving at Kirkwood Hall, ancestral home of Sir Graham Kirkwood and his wife Stella, Sorrel is shocked by the desolate state of the walled garden. Generations have tried—and failed—to bring it back to glory. Sorrel senses heartbreak and betrayal here, perhaps even enchantment. Intrigued by the house’s history—especially the haunting tapestries that grace its walls—and increasingly drawn to Stella’s enigmatic brother, Sorrel sets to work. And though she knows her true home is across the sea with her sisters, instinct tells her that the English garden’s destiny is entwined with her own, if she can only unravel its secrets…
About Ellen HerrickEllen Herrick was a publishing professional in New York City until she and her husband moved to London for a brief stint; they returned nearly twenty years later with three children (her own, it must be said). She now divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a small town on Cape Cod very much like Granite Point. Find out more about Ellen at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Nothing speaks more to my inner geek than a book about a walled Shakespeare garden. I've been looking forward to reading The Forbidden Garden for a long time because I knew I would love the garden, magical realism, family intrigue, and romance. I was not disappointed, and if you enjoy these genres you will love it, too.
Sorrel Sparrow is a well-drawn, unique character. Her intrepid determination and her knowledge of medicinal plants certainly make her an asset in restoring the long-neglected garden. But what I love more about her is her willingness to take a chance on love with Stella's brother Andrew. I enjoyed their love story along with the family curse and suspense. Andrew has a great personality, although it's rare that I've wanted to wash an Anglican priest's mouth out with soap. Apparently he picked up some bad habits in boarding school that never were righted, but in spite of his potty mouth, he's an endearing character, too.
The big mystery of the book is why the garden is cursed, and why it can make Kirkwoods ill. There are hints aimed at solving the mystery in the estate's beautiful tapestries. As an artist, I love tapestries so I enjoyed reading Herrick's detailed descriptions of them. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the garden's plants and their medicinal purposes. Herrick makes the garden come alive with her descriptive passages of the garden's restoration. She not only uses sight, but smell, hearing, and touch. She also cleverly includes an illustrated map of the Shakespeare garden at the beginning of the book. Again, the timing is perfect! I can't wait to get my hands in the soil this weekend and plant.
NOTE: This is a stand alone book, but Herrick wrote a previous book about the Sparrow sisters, and I'm ordering it today:
Here are just a few of the plants in Kirkwood Hall's Shakespeare Garden:
I hope you enjoy your Easter weekend. Go out and plant something after reading The Forbidden Garden!
Discosure: I received a copy of The Forbidden Garden from the publisher via TLC book tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Until next time...