Monday, January 11, 2021

The Last Garden in England - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads: The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  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.

Genre: Fiction - Historical 

Why I Picked This Book:  So many reasons!  The cover is gorgeous, I love multiple timeline books, but mostly because my friend Tina over at Turn the Page recommended it.

My Impression:  Well this was just lovely.  Very rarely in a multiple POV book do I enjoy all the different POVs and find them all equally compelling but that was definitely the case in this book.  I might have looked forward to Emma's story just a little bit more but that's because she is putting the pieces of the past together and that's one of my very favorite things.  

All of the women featured are sympathetic and easy to connect with even if I didn't always like them or agree with their decisions.  Each woman's perspective was completely different and very well developed.  I especially enjoyed Beth's life as a Land Girl and Diana adjusting to her home being requisitioned and her life completely changing in an instant as well as Stella's below stairs perspective.  

I loved watching how everything unfolded and even though I'm not a gardener I enjoyed all the talk of flowers and garden architecture.  I would love to walk in Venetia's garden and explore all the different room.

This was my first Kindle read of 2021 and I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.  The only thing that kept it from being a 5 star read for me is that I really wanted just a little bit more of Beth and Diana's story (especially Beth) - something just felt a little unfinished there.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely! I have at least one other book by Julia Kelly on my TBR and I think this book just moved it higher up the list.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction especially one with a varied cast this is a must read.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the shout out! I am going to look for more by Julia Kelly. The gardening aspect always interests me, probably because I am not good at it. You did a TTT post once about careers that attract you in fiction. Mine is gardening and ballet because I can't do either :-)

  2. That cover is gorgeous! This sounds like a book I would really enjoy. A triple timeline with three very interesting characters. I will have to make sure this is one I read.

  3. It really does sound good, normally I don't take completely to multiple time lines but I love the idea of the garden tying it all together.

  4. I think I'd enjoy it. Thank for sharing!

  5. THis is something I'd read. I'm interested to see how gardeny details are.