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Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden. 1907: A t Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden. 1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever. 1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.


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Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden. 1907: A t Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden. 1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever. 1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.

30 review for The Last Garden in England

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Quick thoughts: The Last Garden in England has three timelines: the present day, the early 1900s, and the 1940s, and I loved them all, and these strong female characters. Set in Scotland at a historic garden at Highbury House over these three timelines, first it must be designed, and later on, it must be restored. It also served as a hospital. There’s also a romance at the heart of the story. The setting is as gorgeous as you’d imagine with this cover. A story of friendship, loss, secrets, and he Quick thoughts: The Last Garden in England has three timelines: the present day, the early 1900s, and the 1940s, and I loved them all, and these strong female characters. Set in Scotland at a historic garden at Highbury House over these three timelines, first it must be designed, and later on, it must be restored. It also served as a hospital. There’s also a romance at the heart of the story. The setting is as gorgeous as you’d imagine with this cover. A story of friendship, loss, secrets, and heartbreak, The Last Garden in England was a charming and captivating read. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.Jennifer tarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  2. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    3.5 stars Scotland, 2021. Emma is commissioned to restore a historic garden at Highbury House. She strives for historical accuracy in re-creating a garden. And that’s the part I enjoyed the most in this story. The process of finding any kind of trace, a drawing or a picture, that would lead her in the right direction. The story is also consumed by her relationship with her parents. And her mom’s regret that Emma didn’t go to college. Instead, she took a course in garden design and opened her own 3.5 stars Scotland, 2021. Emma is commissioned to restore a historic garden at Highbury House. She strives for historical accuracy in re-creating a garden. And that’s the part I enjoyed the most in this story. The process of finding any kind of trace, a drawing or a picture, that would lead her in the right direction. The story is also consumed by her relationship with her parents. And her mom’s regret that Emma didn’t go to college. Instead, she took a course in garden design and opened her own company, which her mother doesn’t applaud as she doesn’t see it as having a stable life. 1907. Venetia Smith is commissioned to design a garden at Highbury House. She finds the owners - her employers challenging. Brother of the owners breeds roses. Her designing a garden and him breeding some roses lead to a romantic relationship. The concept of designing a garden, then its restoration is a very original premise. And I was looking forward to those two stories. But I didn’t feel that the designing and restoration process came through in those two stories. They were more absorbed by something else. At the end, the story I expected the least from turned out to be the most interesting. 1944. During the war, the Highbury House is being used as a convalescent hospital. Beth, after finishing her training at the agricultural college, the city girl travels to the country to become a land girl. While delivering produce to the Highbury House hospital, she takes a look at the garden rooms and “their surprising little nooks and crannies.” She gets an itch to sketch them. Stella is a cook at the Highbury House hospital. But she has bigger dreams. Diana Symonds is the owner of the Highbury House. Once she was “determined to be an excellent caretaker of the grounds,” but the war has changed everything. I enjoyed the camaraderie of women trying to save the gardens during the war, when the government issues “the agricultural requisition of all unused land at Highbury House.” It was interesting to read about the requisition of properties and land during the war. And about the so called land girls. The characters I warmed up to the most are the three women living during the war. Diana grieves her husband who was a doctor. So she knows that it would make her husband happy to know that their house is being used for the wounded soldiers. Even though, it doesn’t make her happy. Beth, after losing her parents at young age, grew up with her aunt, who provided a roof over her head, but never expressed love. Now, on the farm, through her hard work she receives the kindest of words from the farmer she works for and her happiness makes your heart swell. Stella takes care of her sister’s son at the time. She is stuck at the Highbury House for the time being. But she does have her dreams. She wants to explore the world that is out there beyond what she is acquainted with. Overall, the prose is enjoyable. The pace is good. If you enjoy romance stories, there is plenty of it in this book. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly is captivating historical fiction, which takes place in a country well-known for its beautiful gardens. The plot unwinds over three different time periods. In 1907, Venetia is hired by the owners of Highbury House, to design a series of gardens on the estate. It was unusual for a woman to work in this profession in those days. In 1944, Beth leaves the city to become a land girl, helping farmers produce food during WWII. While there, she befriends a cook The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly is captivating historical fiction, which takes place in a country well-known for its beautiful gardens. The plot unwinds over three different time periods. In 1907, Venetia is hired by the owners of Highbury House, to design a series of gardens on the estate. It was unusual for a woman to work in this profession in those days. In 1944, Beth leaves the city to become a land girl, helping farmers produce food during WWII. While there, she befriends a cook at Highbury House, which by then is owned by Diana Symonds, a young widow. In 2021, Emma is hired to breathe new life into the neglected gardens of Highbury House. While researching the history of the gardens, Emma will discover old plans from 1907 and photos and documents from 1944. Secrets will slowly begin to unravel and a century of events will lead her to understand the history of the old gardens and find kinship with the lives of the women who were associated with the estate gardens. The Last Garden in England is a flower that slowly opens to reveal its beauty. This is a book that can be re-read with pleasure. Highly recommended. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada, Net Galley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I listened to the audiobook of The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly on Overdrive. It was brilliantly narrated by Shiromi Arserio, Marisa Calin, Danielle Cohen, Katherine Littrell and Siobhan Waring. This book captured the lives, hopes and desires of five different but very strong women. These women were connected by the lure and love of one very special garden. They lived during three different and distinct time periods.The gardens came to life through these women and influenced, impacted a I listened to the audiobook of The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly on Overdrive. It was brilliantly narrated by Shiromi Arserio, Marisa Calin, Danielle Cohen, Katherine Littrell and Siobhan Waring. This book captured the lives, hopes and desires of five different but very strong women. These women were connected by the lure and love of one very special garden. They lived during three different and distinct time periods.The gardens came to life through these women and influenced, impacted and connected their lives in very different yet similar ways. The cover of The Last Garden in England was beautiful. Julia Kelly masterfully created a touching and heart warming book that boasted impressive research. Emma Lovett had been commissioned to restore the gardens of Highbury House in present day time. The gardens of Highbury House were first designed by renowned designer, Venetia Smith in the 1907. Emma held Venetia Smith in the highest regard and was determined to restore the gardens as Venetia had first intended them to be. Venetia skillfully imagined each garden as its own entity. With the help of the new home owners and the handsome young man who lived on the neighboring farm the original plans and photos were found to help Emma accomplish this. The one puzzle was the Winter Garden. Why was it locked and what was it initially intended to be? The third timeline occurred during World War II. It was a time when lives were lost, men were away fighting the war, and women were relied on more and more to fill some of the jobs once held by men. Diana Symonds had become a widow when her husband was killed in the war. Now the mistress of Highbury House, she had given permission to make part of the house into a Convalescent Hospital for injured soldiers. Diana’s story and that of her cook, Stella Adderton and the land girl, Beth Pedley all became intertwined and connected around the mysterious Winter Garden. The Lost Garden in England was beautifully written and featured strong and dominant women characters. It was a captivating and compelling historical fiction novel that captured my heart. The themes of love, loss, hope, secrets and friendships were prevalent. The gardens represented joy and peace but also sadness and loss. I enjoyed reading this book very much and recommend it very highly.

  5. 4 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    I was totally and delightfully transported to the country estate created by author Julia Kelly in The Last Garden in England. Many of the historical fiction books I’ve read and enjoyed take place in dual timelines. This book immerses us in three periods of time where we meet five fascinating women all connected by the massive garden of Highbury House. In present day, Emma Lovett is hired to restore the once magnificent garden of the large home, which is undergoing a major renovation. Emma’s resea I was totally and delightfully transported to the country estate created by author Julia Kelly in The Last Garden in England. Many of the historical fiction books I’ve read and enjoyed take place in dual timelines. This book immerses us in three periods of time where we meet five fascinating women all connected by the massive garden of Highbury House. In present day, Emma Lovett is hired to restore the once magnificent garden of the large home, which is undergoing a major renovation. Emma’s research takes her back to 1907 when her idol, designer Venetia Smith, created Highbury House’s themed garden rooms including the Winter Garden, which was now locked with no key to access it. The third timeline brings us to 1944 and wartime. Highbury House has been partially converted into a convalescent hospital for soldiers. Diana Symonds, the lady of the house, is newly widowed. Her story, as well as that of her cook Stella Adderton and Beth Pedley, a young woman helping in the war effort as a “land girl,” all intertwine as their stories unfold revealing many secrets including the mystery of the Winter Garden. I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Garden in England. It has everything I look for in this genre – an engaging story, characters to care about and a connection to the past. The rich description of the garden enhances the story making this a very appealing and entertaining book. Some of the character developments were a bit predictable but that didn’t bother me. Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end to learn about the people, historical facts and existing gardens that inspired author Julia Kelly. Her website includes a rendering of the Highbury House garden as she imagined it, which was great to see while reading the book. Many thanks to NetGalley, Gallery Books and the author for the opportunity to read The Last Garden in England in advance of its January 12, 2021 publication date. Rated 4.5 stars. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    I am in awe of this book. First the cover...in all honesty I saw historical fiction and the cover and fell in love. Second, I cannot find the words to successfully articulate the impact the book had on me. I loved the three timelines and the different points of view from three very strong women. I really cared about all the characters that Julia Kelly created and that is truly a sign of a brilliant read. The vivid descriptions in this book had my imagination on overdrive as I thoug I am in awe of this book. First the cover...in all honesty I saw historical fiction and the cover and fell in love. Second, I cannot find the words to successfully articulate the impact the book had on me. I loved the three timelines and the different points of view from three very strong women. I really cared about all the characters that Julia Kelly created and that is truly a sign of a brilliant read. The vivid descriptions in this book had my imagination on overdrive as I thought of the garden itself and the time and place the book was set in. I imagined the house and the clothes as well as the foliage it was very atmospheric throughout. This is one of the best Historical Fiction books I have read...it's brilliantly, beautifully written and so well researched...This is a book that will remain in my heart for many years to come for so many reasons that it deserves all the stars. Disclousure: Thank you NetGalley, Julia Kelly and Gallery Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own. #NetGalley

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This book tells the story of 3 different generations of women who were the architects of the gardens on one large country estate. I found the stories interesting, especially related to the gardens. I'd never thought much about the large gardens on a country estate beside them being beautiful, so it was interesting to read of the first architect during the 1900s, the gardens being requisitioned during the war, and then current day, trying to reconstruct the original gardens. Interwoven are storie This book tells the story of 3 different generations of women who were the architects of the gardens on one large country estate. I found the stories interesting, especially related to the gardens. I'd never thought much about the large gardens on a country estate beside them being beautiful, so it was interesting to read of the first architect during the 1900s, the gardens being requisitioned during the war, and then current day, trying to reconstruct the original gardens. Interwoven are stories of the the owners of the grand estate for the three generations and the events that unfold in those years. Most of the intervening stories are set during the War with some of the staff, land girls, soldiers and friends. I like how it all folded together, and even with the three time periods, the stories blended well and I was able to keep it all together and know where I was at. It's a lovely, cozy. sometimes sad, many times happy, slice of the life around an English Garden and I thought it an enjoyable read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    It happened again. I am on my elliptical multi-tasking cardio with reading. At about 83% I was weeping. Julia Kelly, you have a winner. Why have I waited so long to pick up one of your books? There are two others on my TBR list. I have been missing out. This is such a wonderful tapestry with threads from three timelines and all based on a garden. Not just any garden, though. This grand garden is a masterpiece conceived in 1907 by Venetia Smith -- don't you just love that name? The plans included It happened again. I am on my elliptical multi-tasking cardio with reading. At about 83% I was weeping. Julia Kelly, you have a winner. Why have I waited so long to pick up one of your books? There are two others on my TBR list. I have been missing out. This is such a wonderful tapestry with threads from three timelines and all based on a garden. Not just any garden, though. This grand garden is a masterpiece conceived in 1907 by Venetia Smith -- don't you just love that name? The plans included enclosed spaces that represent the wife of a woman beginning with a Tea Garden, then a Bride's Garden, a Children's Garden, etc. And that Winter Garden -- what an evocative place it is. I can just see it. At first the locked door made me think of the evil garden in Ruth Ware's 'The Turn of the Key,' but this one more of a spiritual refuge and very key to the plot. This was such a lovely book to pick up in the dead of winter with sleet and freezing rain flying outside my windows. If you love Kate Morton, Susan Meissner, and Kristin Hannah this book is for you. Many thanks to Gallery Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    2.5 stars rounded up for the endless garden detailing which I loved and enjoyed. Three time periods with up to a dozen characters each and with the great majority of those being women? And all of these flipping quickly and continually? Depth just became lost as did 75% of the surnames and nickname or title features. This is romance. But holds almost no heat in the telling. Opposite of something that truly does, like Outlander, for instance. And you get even less savvy or quick wit attraction in f 2.5 stars rounded up for the endless garden detailing which I loved and enjoyed. Three time periods with up to a dozen characters each and with the great majority of those being women? And all of these flipping quickly and continually? Depth just became lost as did 75% of the surnames and nickname or title features. This is romance. But holds almost no heat in the telling. Opposite of something that truly does, like Outlander, for instance. And you get even less savvy or quick wit attraction in flirting or suggestion on top of it. Women get pregnant but I was left with perplexing voids of nuance for "how". There is next to none of the come hither banter as in a Lofts or any of those sexy, quirky Edwardians either. I am actually shocked at the ratings here for this one. It's rather a pleasant book. But each period doesn't feel "true" to majority mores or moods. Especially the 1944 one which stresses food shortages more than the earned grief. Strange balance - other than the garden designs I felt total surface views and hardly any soul. With all of that short attention span switching I felt like it was suffering from A.D.D throughout and hardly hung together as one story. Only the stages of surviving garden linked. This is not a book for everyone.I would say chick lit lovers only. Doing pollination of hybrid roses is not as easy as this described exercise. Fiction indeed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly is an excellent historical fiction novel that is a triple timeline story that weaves together to create a beautiful and amazing book that kept me riveted from beginning to end. I have been a huge fan of Ms. Kelly for quite a while now. I loved her previous two books: The Light Over London and The Whispers of War. When I saw that she had a new book coming out, I knew I had to read it. And it most certainly did not disappoint. There were so many things I l The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly is an excellent historical fiction novel that is a triple timeline story that weaves together to create a beautiful and amazing book that kept me riveted from beginning to end. I have been a huge fan of Ms. Kelly for quite a while now. I loved her previous two books: The Light Over London and The Whispers of War. When I saw that she had a new book coming out, I knew I had to read it. And it most certainly did not disappoint. There were so many things I loved about this book: 1. The ability to take three separate stories from three different time periods, create excellent plots, and weave them all together seamlessly into a breathtaking end. All three time periods: early 1900s, 1940s, and 2021 were all excellent in their own rights. That in itself is hard to find. I enjoyed the development, the complexity, the mystery, the romance, the twists/turns/suspense, and the endings all equally. 2. I loved the full character cast. Ms. Kelly has outdone herself with a full array of fascinating characters. I loved Venetia, Emma, Diana, and even Stella (as hard as it was at some points to do so). There were so many more characters within each story to even mention, however each one was vital, complex, realistic, and fit perfectly. I loved how each woman was different in personality and place, yet all had similarities that the reader discovered throughout the book. Excellent. 3. I loved the central theme of the Highbury House Gardens. I was completely blown away and wonderfully immersed into a botanical dream. Learning about all of the plants, flowers, descriptions, history, colors, care, and design was a dream. It is clear that the author has done her research, and it showed in how she was able to create a literary masterpiece that made me feel as if I was actually walking among the paths feeling the dew on my legs as they brushed against the leaves, the silky petals against my skin as I touched the blossoms, and the smell of earth, leaves, ponds, and dampness as I wandered throughout the areas during each season. It was truly remarkable. 4. The ending. I LOVED it. It was perfect in every way and nothing else would have fit. Just perfect. I also enjoyed the Author’s note at the end to give a bit more context as to what was fact vs fiction vs inspiration. I enjoyed that as well. This was easily one of my favorite books this year, with Ms. Kelly being one of my favorite authors. She has most certainly done it again. Bravo. 5/5 stars enthusiastically Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR, Bookbub, and Instagram accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication (and Instagram again).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I loved the concept of this book far more than the execution. I have always been curious about the concept and execution of a majestic, monumental British garden and the idea of following the history of a significant (if fictional) one for 100 years was really enticing. But, somehow I didn't find the magic I was looking for in this book. The concept of a garden as a statement of wealth and "taste" was not new to me, but the lack of heart and emotion in the couple who commissioned "The Last Garden I loved the concept of this book far more than the execution. I have always been curious about the concept and execution of a majestic, monumental British garden and the idea of following the history of a significant (if fictional) one for 100 years was really enticing. But, somehow I didn't find the magic I was looking for in this book. The concept of a garden as a statement of wealth and "taste" was not new to me, but the lack of heart and emotion in the couple who commissioned "The Last Garden in England" created a chill in this novel that never left me. Their calculating personalities and business-like approach to what should have been a creative project dispersed in to the tone of the whole book. I never really felt the passion and creativity I expected to experience when I read about the garden. Perhaps that was intentional, but it detracted from the book for me. This garden was never presented as a happy place, nor the project as an emotionally satisfying one for the designer or the owner. Although the book was garden-centric, it was more a story of love and loss---and women's aspirations. The garden was the foil for presenting these emotional issues, but it was really never the star of this book. NETGALLEY provided me a complimentary copy of this book in return for a candid review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    FULL REVIEW WILL BE ON JANUARY 14. One thing that draws me to a book is an old house, and Highbury House sounded amazing. With the mention of many gardens, I was pulled in from the start. We meet Emma who is restoring the famous gardens and two women from the past who had seen the original gardens. No one knew why it was kept locked or where the key was, but you will find out when you read this lovely book. If you enjoy Julia Kelly's books, you won't want to miss this one. 5/5 This book was given to m FULL REVIEW WILL BE ON JANUARY 14. One thing that draws me to a book is an old house, and Highbury House sounded amazing. With the mention of many gardens, I was pulled in from the start. We meet Emma who is restoring the famous gardens and two women from the past who had seen the original gardens. No one knew why it was kept locked or where the key was, but you will find out when you read this lovely book. If you enjoy Julia Kelly's books, you won't want to miss this one. 5/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    Centered around the fictional Highbury House gardens, Julia Kelly takes the reader on a fascinating journey through these elaborate gardens across the span of over a century. Set in a triple timeline format, 1907, 1944, and 2021, The Last Garden in England follows five women whose lives are interwoven with the house and particularly the gardens. Kelly brings the gardens to life, and I often felt that I was right there with the characters among the plants and flowers due to her creative and beaut Centered around the fictional Highbury House gardens, Julia Kelly takes the reader on a fascinating journey through these elaborate gardens across the span of over a century. Set in a triple timeline format, 1907, 1944, and 2021, The Last Garden in England follows five women whose lives are interwoven with the house and particularly the gardens. Kelly brings the gardens to life, and I often felt that I was right there with the characters among the plants and flowers due to her creative and beautiful descriptions. She uses just the right amount of detail, and it is easily apparent how much research Kelly conducted. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Want to hear more from Julia about this book? Listen to my podcast interview here: https://www.thoughtsfromapage.com/60. For more book reviews and book conversation, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro....

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laura • lauralovestoread

    I am a long time reader of Historical Fiction, and was so excited to read this newest release by Julia Kelly. I love that the author dedicated this to her Father, who inspired her own love for gardening. It was Kelly who wrote one of my favorites, Light Over London, and I’m already falling back in love with her writing. The dual timelines, a beautiful setting, compelling storyline that draws you in, and fascinating characters that I feel hold all the secrets to the past. One of my favorite things I am a long time reader of Historical Fiction, and was so excited to read this newest release by Julia Kelly. I love that the author dedicated this to her Father, who inspired her own love for gardening. It was Kelly who wrote one of my favorites, Light Over London, and I’m already falling back in love with her writing. The dual timelines, a beautiful setting, compelling storyline that draws you in, and fascinating characters that I feel hold all the secrets to the past. One of my favorite things about this was the garden that tied each woman and their stories together. *many thanks to Gallery for the gifted copy

  15. 5 out of 5

    Camille Maio

    Another engrossing book by author Julia Kelly, who has come to be quite reliable for escapist historical fiction. Once again, I was drawn into the lives of the characters (there are quite a lot in this book!) in such a way that it startled me when I came to the end of a chapter and forgot that I was reading rather than witnessing. A compelling story about women, war, mothering, and gardening, put this on your list of 2021 reads!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    4.5 stars Lovely bit of Women's Fiction with several different generations tied together by a fabulous garden. The author deftly juggles 5 different POVs: Venetia, the garden designer in 1907; Diana, Stella, and Beth, who all had ties to said garden during WWII; Emma, hired to bring the garden back to life in 2021. I thought the author did a good job managing that many POVs, but in was inevitable that some of the women were more fully developed than others. While I enjoyed Venetia’s sections, I f 4.5 stars Lovely bit of Women's Fiction with several different generations tied together by a fabulous garden. The author deftly juggles 5 different POVs: Venetia, the garden designer in 1907; Diana, Stella, and Beth, who all had ties to said garden during WWII; Emma, hired to bring the garden back to life in 2021. I thought the author did a good job managing that many POVs, but in was inevitable that some of the women were more fully developed than others. While I enjoyed Venetia’s sections, I felt I knew more about her garden design than I did about her. She was so driven by her work, and so hemmed in by the conventions of the day, that she remained a bit of a mystery to me. The WWII sections were the most interesting to me. Diana, young widow and mother to a young son, is the owner of Highbury House (and the garden). Highbury House is currently being used as a convalescent hospital but Diana is desperately trying to maintain her style of life as a way to find some normalcy amid the upheaval of the war. I found her a bit hard to like, but her situation, as the story unfolded, broke my heart. Stella is a young woman who was still in service at the house, with dreams of getting away, only to have her dreams crushed when she was forced to look after her young nephew. She, too, was hard to like; but her situation tugged at my heartstrings. The two young boys, Robin and Bobby, were a delight. Beth is a land-girl, working at a neighboring farm, who becomes friends with Stella. I loved Beth. She was bright, warm, so happy to be where she was. She was the reader’s gateway to the land-girls. I did wish that the story would have allowed more time with these young women. Emma, our modern woman, has a business devoted to reviving and restoring historic gardens. I really liked her, even if she held no real surprises for me. I enjoyed watching her bloom (sorry, not sorry). There are men in the book, however they are supporting characters. The five women carry the emotional weight of the story and they do it well. Those who want some romance will not be disappointed, even though the romance storylines are a minor part of the whole saga. As an aside, I appreciated that the author let the readers have the answers to several small mysteries that puzzled Emma. I'm looking forward to Ms Kelly's next book. She's becoming an auto-read author for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy Green

    What a lovely read this was! The descriptions of the planning and restoration of the beautiful (fictional) Highbury House gardens made me wish I could visit! I enjoyed the little bits of history tucked in too, though the story was driven more by the personal lives of the characters. The entwining of the three timelines was well done, and I genuinely cared about what happened to all five heroines (one at the turn of the century, three during WWII, and one in present day) as they fought, in variou What a lovely read this was! The descriptions of the planning and restoration of the beautiful (fictional) Highbury House gardens made me wish I could visit! I enjoyed the little bits of history tucked in too, though the story was driven more by the personal lives of the characters. The entwining of the three timelines was well done, and I genuinely cared about what happened to all five heroines (one at the turn of the century, three during WWII, and one in present day) as they fought, in various ways, to preserve something beautiful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    RoseMary Achey

    Thoroughly enjoyed this triple time period novel taking place in the early 1900’s, during WWII and currently. The main character is a lovely garden outside a sprawling estate. The characters were very likable and there is a bit of a mystery involved. Julia Kelly has done it again-well done.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laurie • The Baking Bookworm

    The Last Garden in England was my first book by Julia Kelly, and it won't be my last. In this latest book, her story is set around the lives of five women who are connected by the stunning gardens of Highbury, a remote country estate in England. I enjoyed Kelly's writing style, vivid descriptions and how she incorporates a variety of female lead characters, illustrating how their circumstances, professions, and social standing impact their lives. The story is told in three eras - modern day, 194 The Last Garden in England was my first book by Julia Kelly, and it won't be my last. In this latest book, her story is set around the lives of five women who are connected by the stunning gardens of Highbury, a remote country estate in England. I enjoyed Kelly's writing style, vivid descriptions and how she incorporates a variety of female lead characters, illustrating how their circumstances, professions, and social standing impact their lives. The story is told in three eras - modern day, 1944 and 1907 by five women whose POVs are woven well together. I'll admit that it took me a bit to distinguish Venetia and Emma whose lives overlap a bit with their similar careers and romantic connections, but it didn't take long for each character - Venetia, Emma, Stella, Beth and Diana - to show their unique personalities as they find their voices, strength and resiliency despite the limitations put upon them by society and their differing social status. WWII is a super popular subgenre of Historical Fiction and sometimes it feels like I've 'read it all' but I always enjoy it when authors include new-to-me aspects of the war. In this book, I learned about how the British government expropriated country estates for the British army to use as convalescent homes for wounded soldiers. I also enjoyed seeing the different roles women had during the war - land girl, cook, nurse, business owner, wealthy estate owner - and appreciated the depth and complexity Kelly gives her protagonists as they face daunting issues of war and self-discovery. This was a lighter, wholesome kind of read with a beautiful setting and an interesting blend of story lines that has a bit of everything - romance, heartache, friendship, loss and a dose of botany - but a green thumb is not required! (phew!). This was an enjoyable, if a bit predictable read that focuses on an array of strong female characters who show the importance of friendship and resiliency during tumultuous times. Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Gallery Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Absorbing, romantic, and beautifully written! The Last Garden in London is an engaging, moving tale that sweeps you away to the Highbury House Estate in Warwickshire, England from the original commission of the estate’s gardens, through WWII and its requisition as a convalescent hospital, to the current day garden restoration efforts and the discovery of some long-buried secrets hidden beneath its soil. The prose is rich and eloquent. The characters are resilient, brave, and authentic. And the plo Absorbing, romantic, and beautifully written! The Last Garden in London is an engaging, moving tale that sweeps you away to the Highbury House Estate in Warwickshire, England from the original commission of the estate’s gardens, through WWII and its requisition as a convalescent hospital, to the current day garden restoration efforts and the discovery of some long-buried secrets hidden beneath its soil. The prose is rich and eloquent. The characters are resilient, brave, and authentic. And the plot is a delightful tale set in 1907 to the present day that moves seamlessly between multiple perspectives and the past and present as it unravels all the personalities, behaviours, motivations, secrets, and complex relationships within it. Overall, The Last Garden in London is ultimately a tale about life, loss, tragedy, grief, hope, history, family, sisterhood, and friendship. It’s a captivating, heartwarming, uplifting novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and am certain will please all those who love to read historical fiction that has alluring characters, an evocative, timeslip storyline, and a sliver of romance. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    This was such a good book! It centered on a British garden in three different time periods and I loved all three stories. I don’t know much (anything) about gardening but I could picture this one quite well. I’m curious about the author’s choice to set the present day story line in 2021. Is that how authors are going to handle 2020? Just skip over it as if it didn’t happen? Fine with me! This is the second book I’ve read by Julia Kelly and I’m adding her to my list of must read authors. Thank you This was such a good book! It centered on a British garden in three different time periods and I loved all three stories. I don’t know much (anything) about gardening but I could picture this one quite well. I’m curious about the author’s choice to set the present day story line in 2021. Is that how authors are going to handle 2020? Just skip over it as if it didn’t happen? Fine with me! This is the second book I’ve read by Julia Kelly and I’m adding her to my list of must read authors. Thank you to Goodreads Giveways for the ARC.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Genevieve Graham

    Bestselling author Julia Kelly plants the seed of an idea, nurtures it into a vivid, intriguing seedling, then fertilizes, prunes, and shapes its various twisting branches into a stunning garden. Connected across the decades by a garden in desperate need of their care, three fascinating women grow alongside one another, shedding secrets and insecurities, eventually blooming with self-realization, hope, and love.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shiloah

    I loved this book!! Highly recommend! Looking for a WW2 story? Several women’s lives all tied over a century to a garden. I’m so sad I finished it. I hope she’ll consider a second book to follow up with the protagonists I’ve come to know and love.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    THE LAST GARDEN IN ENGLAND BY JULIA KELLY "Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee." --Samuel Taylor Coleridge. OH WOW! How I loved this wonderful, wholesome gem of a novel. It was so bright written with Julia Kelly's love of her character's. I would give it 100 stars if I could. I also loved every single one of the character's. They were deep and thoughtful to each other. It is an intricately told tale about our humanity coming together for the greater good of working together to make oursel THE LAST GARDEN IN ENGLAND BY JULIA KELLY "Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee." --Samuel Taylor Coleridge. OH WOW! How I loved this wonderful, wholesome gem of a novel. It was so bright written with Julia Kelly's love of her character's. I would give it 100 stars if I could. I also loved every single one of the character's. They were deep and thoughtful to each other. It is an intricately told tale about our humanity coming together for the greater good of working together to make ourselves better. Wait--there are two character's that I almost forgot about that were unlikable during the earliest timeline this wonderful novel was set in 1907. They were the first owners of Highbury Manor for the cruel way they treated icon Venetia Smith but I understand that they were acting the way they did because it was a sign of the times that they were living in that dictated the way they reacted. It is present day and Emma gets a dream job. She gets the chance to restore the gardens at Highbury Estates to their former glory the way her hero Venetia Smith designed them in 1907. When Emma meets Sydney and Andrew the new owners of Highbury Manor and Sydney finds Venetia Smith's original sketches she realizes that this restoration work will be highly rewarding. Only when they discover that there is a missing key to the gate of the Winter Garden section do they begin to wonder what happened to that key to the completely overgrown and long neglected section. The Winter garden section has a rusty locked gate, but why? It is 1907 and Venetia Smith is known and highly regarded to designing beautiful gardens for the rich such as bankers and lawyers. She has a reputation for creating beautiful rooms with her unique talent and she is hired for the ambitious job of doing that at Highbury Manor. She will create a masterpiece of the likes of what can only be described as a Monet painting. Each section of this multifaceted garden of different rooms outside will bloom with rich and brilliant luxurious blooms that can only be described as watching the many bursting colors of fireworks exploding in an American 4th of July skies. Something heartbreaking will happen to her that forces her to flee to America and start a new life there. It is 1944 and Diana Symmonds is newly widowed from losing her beloved husband in World War II. Her home has been taken over by the the British wounded from the war. In short Highbury Manor has been requisitioned as a convalescent hospital. Beth has been put into service as working as a land girl. Beth grew up as an orphan and has finally made a home that she craves to be permanent working on a farm next to Highbury Manor. She meets her future husband a Captain who is visiting the farmer while he is out on a walk from Highbury Manor. His shoulder was shot during his service and while he is healing he and Beth start a romance that will lead to marriage. Stella works as a cook for Mrs. Symmond's when one day her sister shows up asking Stella if her young son Bobby can stay with her at Highbury Manor. Mrs. Symmond's happens to witness this exchange between the two sister's and kindly gives Stella the okay and encourages Bobby to go and find her only son Robin who is the same age. Stella doesn't want to be tied down with Bobby as she has been taking correspondence courses and shorthand so she can work in London and travel the world. Something equally as devastating happens to Mrs. Symmomd's and an odd bargain is made between Stella and Mrs. Symmond's. There is a strand of thread that connects all of these different timelines and these wonderful women. It may seem like a lot of character's to keep track of but I assure you it was easy. This is a beautiful, well crafted story that I loved and can't recommend highly enough. I am certain my review didn't do this gem of a novel justice. This is another one of my favorites of 2020. I wish that I came across more novels like this that absolutely shimmers with sparking glitter. The descriptions of the gardens where some of the most beautiful imagery I have ever read. They are reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier's novel "Rebecca," only much more stunningly so. This is one I will definitely be purchasing for that special bookshelf and also for special family and friend's. I highly recommend that you pick up this special book for yourself. It has all the feels and will please all of your senses! Publication Date: January 12, 2021 Thank you to Net Galley, Julia Kelly and Gallery Books for generously providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. #TheLastGardenInEngland #JuliaKelly #GalleryBooks #NetGalley

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I did not find this book of interest though I am a woman and I do enjoy gardening. I borrowed this from my library because it sounded like a good tour of English gardens. The aim, it seems to me, was to write a book that a women's book club could find interesting to discuss as it spans a generation, giving us tastes of life in three distinct eras centered around a large house. The contrast and changes in societal norms is meant to launch discussion? Just not for me. Library Loan I did not find this book of interest though I am a woman and I do enjoy gardening. I borrowed this from my library because it sounded like a good tour of English gardens. The aim, it seems to me, was to write a book that a women's book club could find interesting to discuss as it spans a generation, giving us tastes of life in three distinct eras centered around a large house. The contrast and changes in societal norms is meant to launch discussion? Just not for me. Library Loan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Long

    When I saw Julia Kelly’s name pop up on NetGalley, I immediately requested the book without even reading the description. I’m a huge fan of Kelly and the cast of characters she creates. She effortlessly laced multigenerational characters with a common theme, place or object. And my instincts were 100% dead on...The Last Garden of England is FANTASTIC! Last Garden weaves together the lives of several strong, independent women from present day and all the way back to the early 1900’s. The common de When I saw Julia Kelly’s name pop up on NetGalley, I immediately requested the book without even reading the description. I’m a huge fan of Kelly and the cast of characters she creates. She effortlessly laced multigenerational characters with a common theme, place or object. And my instincts were 100% dead on...The Last Garden of England is FANTASTIC! Last Garden weaves together the lives of several strong, independent women from present day and all the way back to the early 1900’s. The common denominator...a beautiful estate and is luscious gardens. From their inception to their restoration, the gardens of Highbury tell link these amazing characters, tell beautiful stories and keep their secrets. The 1900’s introduce us to Venetia Smith...a well known architectural gardener is hired to turn the land of Highbury into vast gardens for both beauty and entertaining. She works for a hoity, toity family who value social class above all else. When she falls in love with her boss’ brother, her reputation as well as her job are in jeopardy. She’s determined to tell a story with her landscape design but ultimately the garden will harbor her secret for generations. In the 1940’s Highbury is requisitioned to the British Army as a convalescent home. The lady of the house Diana is determined to keep the gardens organized and maintained while her life is hanging upside down. She rediscovered her voice and her strength as time passes and she too, hides a secret within the garden. Jump decades forward to present day and Emma has been hired to restore the gardens to their original state. As she searches for any kind of plans Venetia may have left behind or Highbury owner Sydney’s great grandmother may have kept in and old box, she not only begins to dig up overgrown roots but the secrets within the garden. All of these ladies find themselves, their strength and love within the walls of these gardens. Much like the plants that grow within, they take time to establish their roots and then begin to blossom. This is a huge win for Julia Kelly. I did not want this story to end...in fact I can see this book becoming somewhat of series, a stand alone book for each of the characters. Well done Julia! Thank you so much to Julia and NetGalley for giving me early access to this gem! One of my favs of 2020!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    HalKid2

    Note: I was given early access to this novel in exchange for writing an impartial review. Scheduled Publication: 1/21/21. Despite loving historical fiction, I'm sorry to say this one did not do much for me. Perhaps it's because I'm not a gardener. Despite what the book description promises, I did not find this either "poignant" or "unforgettable". Like many new fiction books written these days, this one uses that tried-and-true (in my opinion, overused) device of telling multiple narratives, from Note: I was given early access to this novel in exchange for writing an impartial review. Scheduled Publication: 1/21/21. Despite loving historical fiction, I'm sorry to say this one did not do much for me. Perhaps it's because I'm not a gardener. Despite what the book description promises, I did not find this either "poignant" or "unforgettable". Like many new fiction books written these days, this one uses that tried-and-true (in my opinion, overused) device of telling multiple narratives, from different periods of time, that only come altogether at the very end of the book. • 1907. A little-known-but-soon-to-be-famous garden designer, Venetia Smith, specializes in long-neglected gardens. She is working to design elaborate gardens for famous Highbury House, a Downtown Abbey type home for British landed aristocrats. • 1944. Like many large homes, Highbury House has been requisitioned by the government for use as a convalescent hospital for injured World War II soldiers. Recently-widowed homeowner Diana Symonds is not only dealing with her own grief, her young son, and a domineering sister-in-law, she is also managing the house staff and trying to maintain some semblance of a normal home life. And she is working with a number of "land girls", small town civilians working in agriculture to contribute to the war effort. • 2020. Emma Lovett, a deep lover of history, runs a small gardening company specializing in restoring overgrown gardens to their original design. The opportunity to work at Highbury House is a dream come true. As is the looming prospect of a job offer that would free Emma from all the business-owning tasks she hates doing. Weaving back and forth between time, we follow the stories of these three women and a few others as they navigate war, tragedy, dances, romances, pregnancy, and all manner of secrets and British class prejudice. It sounds like a decent enough premise. Only, for at least half the book, I found it difficult to remember who was who as the author jumped back and forth in time. There are lots of people, multiple romances to track, and too many of the characters didn't seem particularly distinctive to me. I rarely felt any emotion for any of them. BUT, I will close by suggesting that reading this novel might be a totally different experience... if you love gardening.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Taken place in three time periods. Over 100 years ago and recently. England where there are castles and other large homes. Where people planted beautiful gardens. It's WWII. Those who own these large "homes" are faced with helped the wounded. People become softer. Caregivers. A gardener brings even more beauty to the home. Today's gardener restoring the beauty. It is with grace and beauty that the story winds and brings forth fragrance, hidden pathways, joy. People find themselves being able to do Taken place in three time periods. Over 100 years ago and recently. England where there are castles and other large homes. Where people planted beautiful gardens. It's WWII. Those who own these large "homes" are faced with helped the wounded. People become softer. Caregivers. A gardener brings even more beauty to the home. Today's gardener restoring the beauty. It is with grace and beauty that the story winds and brings forth fragrance, hidden pathways, joy. People find themselves being able to do what they never thought. Making a difference. Happy ever afters. All in all, this book was fun to read. The characters are well done as is the "neighborhood" of where they lived. Pick it up.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I love to garden, dig in the dirt, plant a seed and watch it come to life. So I was fairly certain this book about the life of a garden, over 3 different timelines, would be winner for me. It fell short, only a little though. Highbury House is built in 1907 and the wealthy new owners want their garden to be as grand as their house. Enter Venetia Smith, an artist with plant life and color. Venetia knows, though, that talent and success will never elevate above her "worker-bee" station in life. WWII I love to garden, dig in the dirt, plant a seed and watch it come to life. So I was fairly certain this book about the life of a garden, over 3 different timelines, would be winner for me. It fell short, only a little though. Highbury House is built in 1907 and the wealthy new owners want their garden to be as grand as their house. Enter Venetia Smith, an artist with plant life and color. Venetia knows, though, that talent and success will never elevate above her "worker-bee" station in life. WWII, 1944 and Highbury House is requisitioned as a military hospital. The current owner, Diana Symonds, is dealing with the death of her husband and the take over of the house, while trying to have some sense of normalcy for the sake of her young son. Neighbors and house staff play a starring role in this timeline, as well. Current Day- Emma Lovett, gardener extraordinaire, is hired to re-create the long ago beauty of the gardens of Highbury. Of course you can figure out that the women of each timeline will be connected through the garden. A predictable story, with an ending that seemed rush to me. Still, good enough entertainment and I would give the author another go.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The Last Garden in England is a wonderful book. It tells the story of Highbury House in three different eras through the view of three vastly different women. While the house and garden are not the main characters, they play a remarkable role in the telling of the tale. This is a beautifully written historical novel by one of my favorite authors. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.

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