THE SEA GARDEN by Deborah Lawrenson

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Three interconnected stories make up this lush and intriguing latest from The Lantern author Deborah Lawrenson.

Ellie Brooke is looking to really make a name for herself and her garden design business. The restoration of an historic garden on the island of Porquerolles could be just the thing to really get the attention the business needs. But when Ellie meets the family that wants to hire her, she realizes that the job is more complicated than it seems.

In WWII Provence young Marthe has been apprenticing at the Distillerie Musset. Things are changing in their little village and Marthe knows that it’s the result of the war. The Mussets have taken Marthe into their home, offering her shelter and a job, so she feels a certain amount of guilt in suspecting that they are keeping things from her. The truth, that the Mussets are part of the growing resistance in France, could put everyone around them at risk.

Like many of the young women in England, Iris wanted to join up and help the war effort. She’d planned to sign on as a Wren – the Women’s Royal Naval Service – but was recommended for the Special Operations Executive instead. From their office in London, Iris and her colleagues run a specialized spy ring in France. When Iris meets and falls for an operative who later goes missing, though, her job takes her well beyond 64 Baker Street.

These three women and their stories intertwine to become one larger tale in The Sea Garden. There’s even a nod to The Lantern as well, though it’s not at all necessary to have read it beforehand.

I loved the idea of the connected novellas. Each tale is its own all-encompassing story but there are some mysteries as well. The answers to those mysteries come only in completing the book as a whole.

7/14 Becky Lejeune

THE SEA GARDEN by Deborah Lawrenson. Harper (June 24, 2014). ISBN 978-0062279668. 320p.

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