A few weeks ago Todd wrote a post about what it’s like living with me when a book makes me emotional. As much as I feel bad about making him bear witness to me being a simpering mess, I can’t give up books that elicit strong emotional responses from me. In my opinion, books that can generate these strong responses are well written, engaging, and in some way relatable. Every book that I’ve read by Lucinda Riley can be categorized as one of these books. Her latest, The Lavender Garden, topped my list of reads for 2013 and is every bit as moving as her last two books The Girl on the Cliff & The Orchid House.
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.
As I stated earlier, Riley’s novels make me into a simpering mess. I should add that I LOVE that about her novels. Her novels don’t make me cry due to sadness, they make me cry because of their beauty. The way they explore difficult facets of life. The types of characters she chooses to explore. The Lavender Garden hooked me for one particular reason….the characters. Talk about a smorgasbord of different people! The mark of good writing is when you get completely immersed into the characters’ lives. You feel joy and pain with them. They aggravate you. They make decisions you cringe or cheer at. Emilie, Constance, Edouard, Alex, etc are all so well-drawn and configured.
Riley is a master at weaving the past and present together in a way where it all makes sense. The elements of mystery, love, romance, and suspense that she is able to incorporate into her stories are what make them such page-turners. The twists and turns present in The Lavender Garden make it difficult to discuss any plot points in-depth without giving things away, so just trust me when I tell you – the emotional journey Riley takes you on is so, so rewarding. If you’ve ever read anything by Kate Morton, you’re sure to enjoy Riley’s novels. And if you’ve never read something by either author you’re sincerely missing out.
5 out of 5 Stars
The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley
Atria Books (2013)
Paperback: 416 pages
Special thanks to Ms. Riley for my review copy!