Read The Sea Garden: A Novel by Deborah Lawrenson Online


Romance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellas-rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere-from the critically acclaimed author of The LanternTHE SEA GARDENOn the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial gardenRomance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellas-rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere-from the critically acclaimed author of The LanternTHE SEA GARDENOn the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden's owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian …THE LAVENDER FIELDNear the end of World War II, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life . . . and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.A SHADOW LIFEIris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?Ingeniously interconnected, this spellbinding triptych weaves three parallel narratives into one unique tale of love, mystery, and murder. The Sea Garden is a vivid and absorbing chronicle of love and loss in the fog of war-and a penetrating and perceptive examination of the impulses and circumstances that shape our lives....

Title : The Sea Garden: A Novel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062279682
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Sea Garden: A Novel Reviews

  • Blair
    2019-05-26 18:50

    The Sea Garden is what I categorise as a past-and-present novel, one with multiple narratives set in different time periods which are meant to intersect in some way. Breaking with recent tradition, Deborah Lawrenson's new book is formatted as three separate novellas, rather than relating the different stories in alternate chapters. The first is about Ellie Brooke, a landscape gardener who travels to the French island of Porquerolles (in the 'present day') to work on a coastal memorial garden for a wealthy, eccentric client. In the second - set during the Second World War - Marthe Lincel, a blind girl working in a perfume factory in the South of France, becomes involved with the Resistance. The third is also set in WWII, but in London, where an intelligence officer named Iris Nightingale embarks on various adventures, among them a love affair with a French agent who may not be all he seems. Only at the very end do the connections between the stories become properly apparent.The Sea Garden bears some resemblance to Lawrenson's last book, The Lantern - it even features one of the same characters, if memory serves - but it is altogether a more sophisticated and cohesive piece of work. It retains the things that made The Lantern enjoyable but is thankfully free of a lot of its irritating aspects, with more likeable characters and less schmaltz. I read it while in the process of moving house, and it was the perfect relaxing, feelgood read to take my mind off the stress of all that. It has bags of atmosphere and descriptive power, particularly when depicting the idyllic environment of Porquerolles. This section is particularly beguiling because it's so delightfully summery and refreshing; it paints a very persuasive picture. I was initially slightly confused by the structure - I really enjoyed Ellie's story and was desperate to get back to it and find out what happened to her, and was disappointed when I realised that wouldn't be happening. I suspect some readers will be dismayed that (view spoiler)[we only hear of Ellie's death second-hand and there is no actual return to her narrative (hide spoiler)]; I would have liked to hear more from her, but by this point I was absorbed enough in the whole saga that I was happy to go along with whatever happened. The ending wrapped everything up nicely and, altogether, the conclusions felt much less contrived than those in The Lantern. (I enjoyed The Lantern, by the way - I realise this is making it sound like I didn't. It's just that I found it more of a guilty pleasure, where this is just an enjoyable book.)Recommended to fans of authors like Kate Morton and Louise Douglas. This is not a groundbreaking book, but it's easy to read, enjoyable, compelling and at times gripping, entertaining and atmospheric, with likeable characters and beautiful settings - everything you could possibly want in a lovely lightweight summer read.

  • Hannah
    2019-05-07 17:37

    DNFHaving loved The Lantern, I was excited to try another by Lawrenson.Sadly, this one just didn't *take* for me, although the writing was good and the plotline is one I generally enjoy. Who knows why these things happen, but they do.Oh well, I certainly wouldn't discourage others from reading this one.

  • Colleen Turner
    2019-05-27 19:58

    I reviewed this book for I read Deborah Lawrenson’s debut novel The Lantern a few years ago I was swept away with her ability to transport the reader to the vibrant lavender fields of France and to spin a story that not only grabs the reader with its taut mystery and brilliant characters but with its sensory-drenched descriptions. Needless to say I have been excitedly waiting for Ms. Lawrenson to come out with her next book. I’m happy to say that The Sea Garden, a collection of three short stories that all twist around to relate to each other in a most surprising way, was just as memorable and exciting as its predecessor and just as impossible to forget once read.Each story was unique and entertaining in its own ways and I was truly surprised to see how they all fit together. I kept guessing how they would all connect and, much to my everlasting delight, I was completely wrong. There is a very different feel to each story – “The Sea Garden” being thrilling and somewhat supernatural in feel, “The Lavender Garden” being taut with anxiety and beauty and “A Shadow Life” being an incredible insight into how much went into the various spy rings working together and separately to bring an end to Nazi domination – but each is similar in that they all deal with some aspect of war, love and loss. While “The Lavender Field” was my favorite each had its marvelous points and would find an audience with a wide variety of readers.Anyone knew to Deborah Lawrence might enjoy starting with The Sea Garden as each story can be consumed in a day or two and gives a wonderful insight into the author’s talent for setting and story development. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

  • Lesley
    2019-04-26 14:44

    I simply loved this book. It is divided into three novellas which weave together seamlessly at the end. The writing is simply beautiful in evoking time and place as the storyline travels between past and present.The story itself is compelling as it is weaved around historical fact which gives it weight and poignancy and the thread of perfume which weaves it's way from The Lantern through The Sea Garden is prose to savour.The novel unfolds gently with a growing sense of mystery which gathers pace and becomes more complex and intriguing and it is not until the end when all the links become joined. For me it is a book that completely captivates you from start to finish and the beauty and depth of the writing just takes you right there.A thought provoking,intriguing and poignant book, beautifully written.

  • Andrea at Reading Lark
    2019-05-08 20:45

    Review Posted on Reading Lark 5/28/14: sat down to write this review mere moments after finishing this novel. As I try to gather my thoughts, I am overwhelmed by the awe and beauty of this one. Lawrenson has managed to not only craft a compelling historical fiction tale, but she has also added contemporary layers with a hint of mysticism. I was expecting a historical piece with some romance and intrigue that focused on WWII. I certainly got those elements, but this novel is so much more. The writing is lush and haunting; the characters are rich and dynamic.For starters, the structure of this novel makes it stand out. Rather than using multiple narrators through rotating chapters to tell the story strands, Lawrenson has crafted three novellas. I wasn't sure how the three distinct stories would be connected, but by the end everything is made clear. I loved that Lawrenson left this until the last few chapters. It forced me to try to figure out the connection and added another layer of enjoyment as I searched for the common thread that tied the novellas together. Interestingly enough, I was nowhere near the reality of the ending.The first novella focuses on Ellie Brooke, a young British woman, who has been lured to the island by the prospect of a lucrative job opportunity. Ellie designs gardens and often uses historical influences in her work. When the wealthy owner of a vineyard on the island of Porquerolles requests her assistance in the restoration of a memorial garden on his estate, Ellie jumps at the chance to take her company international. However, a sinister air lurks over Ellie's experiences on the island. She is convinced that someone is watching her and when odd events start to occur, Ellie is determined to head home and leave the troublesome time on the island behind her. This section felt more like a contemporary mystery; I was slightly worried about how it would connect to the historical segments, but Lawrenson ties everything together beautifully in the end.The second novella focuses on Marthe, a young blind woman living in southern France during WWII. Marthe stands out in my mind as an amazing character because of her ability to adapt and her courage. Marthe begins to lose her eyesight at the age of eleven. I cannot imagine having to endure something so difficult at such a young age - especially during a time when medical knowledge was more limited than it is today. Marthe's parents don't seem to know how to help their daughter so they send her to a school for the blind in a town far from her home; this choice will alter the course of Marthe's life. It gives her the chance to meet a family that runs a perfume business. Marthe relies heavily on her other senses to compensate for her lack of sight and soon finds that her careful attention to smell affords her a talent at perfume creation. Her occupation will allow her to be in a prime position to assist in the resistance movement in France after the Nazis take over the country.Lastly, the third novella focuses on Iris, a young woman in London who works for a British intelligence agency during WWII. Iris is another strong female character who will linger with me; I admired her strength and tenacity. Iris' story largely focuses on her love affair with another member of the organization, Xavier. While I didn't understand how all the pieces would weave together to form an intricate big picture, I trusted that Lawrenson had a plan. Her vision for the connections between these women and their stories is a thing of beauty. I am still in awe of how she delivered the stories and tied everything together. Lawrenson has also given me an intense desire to travel to the French locales in the book to the see them first hand. I highly recommend this one to lovers of historical fiction and those interested in learning more about women's experiences in WWII.One Last Gripe: I did find that there were moments in the second novella that lagged a bit.My Favorite Thing About This Book: The structure of the novel - it was unique, powerful, and compellingFirst Sentence: The island lay in wait, a smudge of land across the water.Favorite Character: IrisLeast Favorite Character: Laurent's Mother

  • Bonnie
    2019-05-02 17:03

    My rating: 3.5 of 5 starsPublication Date: June 24th 2014 by HarperI received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.‘In this present hour, there was time for anything to happen, endless time.’The Sea Garden contains three separate novellas that slowly intertwine together. The first novella shares the name of the title and is set in present day. The second and third novellas are all centered around the WWII era.I became an instant fan of Deborah Lawrenson’s after her debut novel, ‘The Lantern‘ completely mesmerized me with its Rebecca-esque gothic story. It was clear she had a talent for the written word and I’ve been anxiously awaiting a new book from her. The Sea Garden presents a somewhat full-length novel, broke up into seemingly separate stories but have more in common than assumed. The Sea Garden novella is the present day story which brings to life a young woman named Ellie who is hired to construct a new WWII Memorial Garden. Her short visit is a disturbing one after the mother of the man that hired her is unkindly to her and after she believes to have seen ghosts in the Garden. The real heart of the story comes in the WWII stories that have an unexpected impact on Ellie’s life even after all that time has passed.‘Thy word is a lantern unto my feet: and a light unto my path.’I recognized and enjoyed the authors skillful writing yet found this story lacking in comparison to its predecessor. I found The Sea Garden to be for the most part too convoluted and lacking a clear and concise ending that wrapped up all loose ends. The affinity between the three tales was a little too slack and wasn’t as solid of a connection as I would expect with a multi-narrative tale such as this. Also, the odd supernatural aspects felt superfluous and too extravagant of an addition to this basic tale of history and its effects on everyone it touches. The writing was most pleasing but I would have appreciated this story more if the three novellas had stood on their own without the compulsory connection between them.

  • Nicky
    2019-05-27 14:01

    I was worried that the story would abruptly end without tying up any of the story lines. Lawrenson managed to pull everything together beautifully. I can't say what happened without giving away details, but I honestly didn't figure out certain story threads until close to the big reveal. I loved this book. Her first, The Lantern, ties into this one. I'm definitely going to be keeping up with her releases from now on. I need to buy this one!

  • Cleo Bannister
    2019-05-05 15:47

    I love a good historical novel especially those set in war-time. Deborah Lawrenson has created a twist on the normal dual time narrative, in this book we have three narratives told up to a point with the denouement linking the three together. This is all helped by the way the author has captured both the time periods but also the different places our narrators are located.Ellie’s story is the longest, set in the present day she visits the island of Porquerolles where she has a commission to re-design a memorial garden but her trip doesn’t begin well with a young man falling overboard on the ferry journey. Despite the delay Ellie is keen to get stuck in to the exciting task at hand but soon finds the owner, to be a little eccentric and his mother even more so. There are a number of mysteries hinted up and a strong suggestion of the supernatural which I wasn’t so keen on and this part of the novel ended with Ellie preparing to leave Porquerolles.The second narrative is that of a blind girl Marthe resident in Southern France during the Second World War. Marthe starts of as quite a naïve but loyal girl but as the war continues she is forced to be incredibly brave as her employers, perfume makers, become more involved in the Resistance. Reading Marthe's story was quite uplifting and showcased the author's ability to develop a character in a short space of time and exploring without ever being exploitive the problems that someone who has lost their sight encounters.Last we have my favourite from all the novellas with Iris’s narrative at the heart of the British Security Services during the war, based in Baker Street London. During the course of her tenure she witnesses loss of friends as well as a love affair with a fellow spy. The agents embark on missions to fly into France for undertaking various tasks on behalf of the Security Services adding to the tension within the pages. This was a sad tale which really bought home the danger that the spies undertook, more heart-breaking still when the author shows us that not all the spies were on the same side, or if they were it could be that they were seeking a different outcome.This book was unusual because the three stories appeared to be separate not only because they focus on different characters and places but also in tone and pace. Ellie’s story is quite spooky and drawn out, whereas Marthe’s story quickly picks up the pace with plenty of intrigue to keep the reader’s interest before Iris’s narrative which has some romance as well as the hard-hitting realities of what life must have been like for those involved in this little spoken about aspect of the war. stories.A great read for anyone who wants to learn about more than the fighting or homeland in war-time with characters that are both fascinating and realistic.I am very grateful to Orion Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book in return for this honest review

  • Michelle
    2019-05-03 12:46

    In establishing her main story as three separate and distinct novellas, Ms. Lawrenson thankfully dispatches with the overused plot device of multiple narrators and multiple time periods. Instead, she creates three full-fleshed separate and distinct stories that are thoroughly enjoyable individually but outstanding when viewing them as a sum of their parts. In so doing, she challenges the reader to remember certain facts and events from one book to the next, but this is never a hardship. The three stories are delightful, exquisite in their imagery, and achingly memorable for their emotion and historical context.Because The Sea Garden is three novellas under one cover, it becomes difficult pigeonhole the entire novel into one genre. For, while “The Lavender Field” and “A Shadow Life” do take place during World War II, they are more than historical fiction. Similarly, “The Sea Garden” is not just contemporary fiction. In all three, there is action, suspense, drama, more than a little psychology, love, some young adult drama, and more. There is even a hint of a gothic otherworldliness to round out the genre mash-up. In many ways, Ms. Lawrenson uses the combination of genres to create as realistic a story as possible because life itself never falls into one category. She creates a frighteningly true-to-life fictional story by seamlessly hybridizing genres and focusing on the story rather than on the mechanics. The reader gets the pleasure of reading three amazing stories without having to worry about continuity because the continuity takes care of itself by the end of the third story.The Sea Garden’s collective novellas are each atmospheric and simply gorgeous pieces of fiction. The settings are lush and achingly life-like; one expects to smell the ocean breezes or the lavender upon turning the page. The characters are well-developed and real. The little mysteries are fascinating and hold fast a reader’s attention. The way she connects each story to the other is brilliantly subtle and quite effective. The whole novel becomes an active reading experience that is a pure joy.

  • Tara Chevrestt
    2019-04-28 13:58

    An interesting book. Very interesting. And different. It begins in modern times, with this garden designer traveling to an island off the coast of France to restore a memorial garden. But things go wrong on the boat there, immediately giving the story a sinister feel and it certainly sucked me in and grabbed my attention. A man just...walks...overboard.Yes, you read that right.And then it gets better with things missing and a very strange old lady...and something about this old lady tells me there's something shocking to come.The modern story felt almost like a horror, at least to me...then it suddenly goes back to the war, to a blind girl who has a way with perfume and uses her skills--both knowingly and unknowingly--to aid the French Resistance, Americans, and British.I think she was my favorite. I really didn't want her part to end. She is so brave and handles her disability in an admirable way. I wish I'd handled my own so maturely so quickly.And then it switches again, to a woman operative in England and the people she knows and the people she watches go to France on covert missions. And at 75% I still couldn't see how these three stories tied together. I only saw one common denominator: a radio operative. It was at this point that I began to get impatient. I like some clues, at least.And then it concluded, leaving me confused on a few points, namely one, and I can't reveal what it is without spoiling the book, so... But I kept asking, "But why is she...." And though I loved the blind girl's story best of all, I am left wondering how exactly it ties into the other two. There's no connection beyond a brief scene at the end. The blind girl and the others were two ships barely passing in the night. Surely they could have been tied in better than that?Full review on Book Babe:

  • Carolyn Hill
    2019-05-23 12:36

    I found this very hard to rate, as it is really three stories in one book, and I enjoyed some parts more than others. Lawrenson is wonderful at scene setting, engaging the senses, and historical details. The three novellas don't seem to relate except for some overlap about the French Resistance in World War II, but they are tied together by a common history that we don't discover until very late in the last story. Book One is contemporary, set in 2013, where Ellie, a British garden designer, visits a small wild and romantic island off the south of France about a commission to restore a memorial garden. Perhaps because I read this book in fits and starts, I found myself at sea in this first section. It opens with a suicide that doesn't relate to anything else; there is a gothic creepiness and strange paranormal aspect; and an elderly character acts deranged and mentions people that the reader (and the main character) has no idea who she is talking about. I found it very confusing and unsettling, and the ending bizarre and inconclusive. Next in Book Two, the story jumps back in time to 1943 and 1944 and the lavender fields of Provence are the setting for a tale about the French Resistance. Marthe, a young blind woman, has come to live and apprentice with a family of scent makers. The family are good and kind people as well as good business people who provide the occupying Germans with fine toiletries. Marthe gradually comes to realize that more is going on beneath the surface as they shelter downed Allied airmen in aid of the Resistance. I found this section of the book to be the most engaging as Marthe has to depend on her hearing and sense of smell and tries to envision the world around her, as she was not born blind. This segment also crackles with tension as any missteps could lead to death. The third novella covers the same period in the war, this time from Britain. It centers on Iris, who works in London for a government agency involved in recruiting and sending spies into France, including women. Iris not only speaks French and German and some Italian, but is good at noticing and remembering details and nuances, which she records for their files. It was difficult knowing that most radio operators she saw from recruitment to embarking on their missions wouldn't survive three months. Iris meets a French Resistance commander on one of his trips to England and falls in love. He is not only married but engaged in very dangerous work, not the best auspices for a love affair. He can reveal little about himself and Iris even wonders if he is totally trustworthy. The latter part of the book sums up Iris's life from 1950 to 2013, when the story lines converge. We are told the background which had made Book One so incomprehensible. I had guessed at bits of it, but the connections were rather strained. I enjoyed the books set during the war more than the contemporary one, and I wondered if it would have made sense to put it last instead of first. I felt the stories of Marthe and Iris could have been woven into a bigger book because I actually wanted to know more about them and the telling drawn out more rather than jumping about. Lawrenson seems to be on firmer ground with the historical parts and there really is a different tone from Book One to Books Two and Three. While I enjoy a good gothic and don't mind a nonphysical character, the first book was just confusing. I feel it could have been stronger if poor Ellie had been allowed to discover why she had been chosen to design the garden and the history behind the place. It could have been an engaging tale on its own if extended into a longer form. So to me these three linked novellas would have been better as two longer books, for I enjoy Lawrenson's story telling, and I find myself wanting more, not less.

  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    2019-05-04 12:55

    Since this story is not just a dual narrative but a triple narrative, for the full explanation you’ll want to visit goodreads. The first storyline follows a British garden designer hoping a commission on a beautiful island will be her chance to break into the international scene. However, once she realizes that her clients are eccentric and possibly malicious, she’s not sure the job is worth the risk. The second story is that of a young blind woman living in Nazi-occupied France with a difficult decision to make. And the third story is that of a British intelligence agent during WWII who falls for a French agent who disappears, suggesting he might have had hidden allegiances. The way these three stories connect is a surprise.The first scene in this book immediately highlighted the author’s amazing talent for bringing a location vividly to life. I think what made her descriptions work so well for me is the level of detail she includes. It’s not too much, not too little, matching what I think I’d notice if I were actually there. The first story was not as enjoyable as I expected based on that first scene. It was a bit trippy, with hints of the supernatural or a conspiracy or both. I found it a little too confusing and finished this section unsure what had just happened. By the end, I considered this first section worthwhile for its impact on the story as a whole, but I didn’t love reading it.The second and third stories were both fantastic. I continued to enjoy the author’s evocative writing but also started to love the plot. Both of these sections featured somewhat untraditional, very brave female protagonists. I thought they were both incredible and a ton of fun to read about. The layering of the three stories, each one adding more information and getting closer to the heart of the matter, gave this story a lot of depth. It was a very unique way to tell a multi-narrative story, sequential instead of alternating, and I think it worked beautifully. The overall effect was to give the ending a lot of emotional impact. I admire the author’s choice to tell a story in a unorthodox way and would love to read more of her work.This review first published on Doing Dewey.

  • Deb
    2019-05-11 20:47

    Excerpt from my review: It seems a bit silly to start my book review with the fact that I could just be happy sitting and staring at the cover of The Sea Garden. The artwork is gorgeous--as it should be to capture the mood and beauty of Deborah Lawrenson's words. I had the pleasure of reviewing Lawrenson's novel The Lantern a couple of years ago and described it as "lush" and "a book for the senses." The Sea Garden is no different. The author's words paint pictures in the mind--you see the characters and places, feel the warm breezes, smell the flora and fauna and generally get just as caught up soaking in the settings as you do in the stories themselves. Of the three stories, I probably connected most with the second and third which are both primarily set in the later part of WWII. I have an interest in the history of that time. I found the characters of Marthe and Iris to be brave and compelling and the roles they played in the war were fascinating. The book's 300+ pages move quickly, as much as I wanted to linger and soak in the beauty of the prose, I found myself hurrying to turn pages to find out what would happen next and see how everything would connect. The way it all comes together at the end was a good balance of things I had figured out as well as some startling things I did not see coming. This is a wonderful book for a warm summer morning in the garden or on the lanai. You can see my full review and a recipe (Provencal White Bean and Artichoke Spread with Lavender and Herbs) inspired by the book on my blog post here: A review copy of "The Sea Garden" was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Amy
    2019-05-16 20:01

    The Sea Garden is a book made of three smaller, interconnected books. The first of these books takes place in 2013 and is about Ellie Brooke, a landscape designer who has been hired to restore a garden on an island off the coast of France. The garden's owner is an elderly woman that gives Ellie the heebie jeebies and Ellie isn't sure she wants to have anything to do with the woman or the garden. This part of the book was my least favorite. It was too detailed in speaking of the gardens, which didn't interest me at all. Also, the reader has no idea what this part has to do with the other two parts until the very end of the book.The second part of the book takes place during World War II in France. I was so happy to get to the second part, which I found far more interesting than the first. The Nazi occupation of France and the French Resistance is a part of the war that I don't know much about and this piece of historical fiction did a bit to fix that.The third pat of the book takes place mostly in England, mostly during the same time period as the second, towards the end of World War II. Iris is a junior intelligence officer who falls in love with a French man that may or may not be a double agent. It is Iris and her Frenchman that tie the three books together and in the end it is Iris who learns what happened to Ellie Brooke.Perhaps I found the second and third parts most interesting because I am a fan of historical fiction and the first part wasn't historical. For whatever reason, once I was done with the first 86 pages, I really started to enjoy this book. If you're like me and struggling to get through, keep at it.

  • Minty McBunny
    2019-05-13 17:59

    This was really disappointing. The first story was straight up dreadful, the supernatural elements were ridiculous and every character was almost cartoon-like in their role. I very nearly gave up.The second book was much better & I found it a quite interesting look at the Resistance movement in the south of France. The characters were much more realistic and finely drawn, this section gave me hope that it all might have been worth my while in the end. The third book started strong, but quickly meandered off into twaddle and oh my gosh, the resolution? The storylines were brought together with such a complete lack of deftness or grace that I was embarrassed for the writer. And the revelations of how everything fit together were done with all the subtlety of bricks being kicked off a building. All I can think is that she had two decent short story ideas & came up with a really weak third story as a (completely ineffectual) way to tie them together and bring them into the modern world.

  • Piepie
    2019-05-18 18:04

    Almost gave this one 4 stars for the way all three novellas wrapped together by the book's end, but might have to settle for 3 1/2.It took me a while to get into each story, but once I did, I was swept up. I found the WWII/Resistance bits to be very interesting. I had read The Lantern prior to reading this book, and so Marthe was a familiar character. It was nice to read about her life again and her amazing, amazing talents.If you find yourself struggling to get through this book, just keep plowing in. The ending is worth it.

  • CLM
    2019-05-14 20:05

    Enjoyed this, despite being perplexed at times. Here is a link to my review:

  • MyGoodBookshelf
    2019-05-27 13:05

    I have reviewed this book here:

  • Lucy Perry
    2019-05-03 16:40

    A couple of years ago I took a gamble on Lawrenson’s last book ‘The Lantern’. It was getting great views but I was put off by the blurb and the cover – I’m not a lover of chick lit and it sounded pretty chicky to me. But I loved it! So when I was able to read a pre-publication review copy of ‘The Sea Garden’ I jumped at the chance. Deborah Lawrenson has an indescribable way of writing beautifully immersive fiction without being over descriptive or literary. Both this and ‘The Lantern’ were incredibly captivating and easy reads for me and I enjoyed both immensely. This novel was very reminiscent of ‘The Savage Garden’ by Mark Mills at the start, another book that I loved.One thing that both novels prove is that a mystery/thriller doesn’t have to be dark, gothic and filled with murder and mayhem. This story built in mystery and foreboding as it developed supported with understated nuances rather than horror and gore.‘The Sea Garden’ is split into four parts: a young British garden designer scoping out a new project in modern day on the French island of Porquerolles; a young blind perfumier during war time rural occupied France; a young secret service operative in war time London; back to modern times. The first 3 parts work as stories completely independent from one another but are all tied neatly together in the final chunk.I must say, I enjoyed the modern day parts much more than the wartime segments. The historical pieces verged on action/thriller which I wouldn’t choose to read normally. As I progress through the book I finished each part feeling a little confused as to how they related and really hoped that I wasn’t supposed to take them as three separate stories but thankfully they all became interlinked in the end. The second part of the book, set in rural France during World War II centres around a young blind perfumier called Marthe who was a central character in Lawrenson’s earlier novel ‘The Lantern’. I loved this use of the last book – it was like a private nod to everyone who had read the other novel and a thank you for choosing to read another.The book’s ending is rather open to interpretation. It could be read in a supernatural sense or a logical sense and I feel as though it was right to leave the ending of this particular story open to the interpretation of the reader. In some books I find this incredibly annoying but here I felt it complimented the rest of the book very delicately. There are a few plot holes and unexplained mysteries that don’t find a solution in the last part that some might see as faults, but I think they allow for even more mystery when the reader draws their final conclusions.A fine multifaceted mystery novel that made me dream of running though lavender fields and swimming in the sea. It kept me turning the pages hungrily from front to back so a well-deserved 4/5 for this one. I would recommend mostly to female mystery or historical fiction fans.

  • Becky
    2019-05-19 12:43

    Three women with three very different stories all connected by one mystery. Ellie Brooke has been hired to restore a memorial garden on the island of Porquerolles. Her arrival is marred by a shocking tragedy but the job is inspiring. Unfortunately things turn out to be quite different than they seem and the island is both steeped in history and haunted by a dark past. For Marthe, being taken on at the Distillerie Musset is a dream come true. But WWII brings danger to Provence and Nazi occupation leaves everyone vulnerable. Marthe knows the people around her are keeping secrets, but it is only later that she learns the truth and it's one that places them all at risk.In England, Iris's part in the war effort involves winnowing out possible spies to send into enemy territory. It's a job that's highly secretive and highly stressful. Then she meets and falls for one of the overseas agents. Their relationship is one that can never exist beyond the war, but that doesn't stop Iris from seeking him out after he's declared missing in the liberation. Oh, I loved this book! This is not my first outing with Lawrenson. Her 2011 debut, The Lantern, was one I'd greatly enjoyed both for its lush setting and the vivid imagery. You can imagine then that I'd be looking forward to The Sea Garden with great anticipation. (You'd be correct.) And it almost completely lived up to my admittedly high expectations as well. Yet again, Lawrenson's settings and imagery are wonderful. The story moves from the Porquerolles (an island I was previously unfamiliar with and would now desperately love to visit!) to Provence and then to London. Time wise we move from present day to WWII and back again and I found that Lawrenson - at least to my mind - perfectly evoked the feelings of the respective eras and the emotions of each of the characters we meet along the way. The book is cleverly built as three interconnected novellas - "The Sea Garden," "The Lavender Field," and "A Shadow Life" - and it's not until the end of the book that you really understand all of the connections. It's also not until the end of the book that you learn the fate of many of the characters, with one exception - folks who have read Lawrenson's The Lantern will recognize Marthe as one of the characters from that book. You don't have to have read it to dive into The Sea Garden but it was a nice sort of return to that earlier story. My only issue - and it's not really an issue at all - is that there still seemed to be some unanswered questions at the end of "A Shadow Life." Or just as likely, some things I maybe missed as being resolved somewhere along the way.

  • Melinda
    2019-05-12 12:50

    Originally posted on The Book MusingsI love dual narrative stories, but The Sea Garden gives you something unique, at least for me. It’s a triple narrative, but it doesn’t alternate between the three narratives. Instead, she gives us three novellas in one book that are interconnected in some way: The Sea Garden, The Lavender Field and A Shadow Life.The Sea Garden tells the story of Ellie Brooke, a landscape/garden designer who travels to an island called Porquerolles to restore and re-design a memorial garden. When Ellie gets there, something does not feel right, she finds her client a little eccentric and his mother is against her trying to restore the garden. He makes friends with a war historian.The Lavender Field plays off during WWII in France. Marthe Lincel is a young blind girl who works at a perfume factory in Provence. She wasn’t always blind, but instead of being depressed, Marthe finds herself by using her senses to create extraordinary scents, while the owners of the factory are involved in the Resistance movement.A Shadow Life is also set in WWII, but plays off in London. Iris Nightingale is an intelligence officer working for the SEO. She meets a French agent and falls in love with him, but he isn’t what he seems to be. She falls pregnant before she could tell him, but after the war, she tries to find him – with no luck. She believes him to be dead, because what other explanation is there if he is not in London and neither returned to France as expected?The author does a great job in connecting these stories. It is done slowly and towards the end of the novel is where you will find the most surprises, which is why A Shadow Life is my favourite novella of the three. I loved the descriptions of the settings – the lush landscape of Porquerolles and the beautiful and lush lavender fields of Provence. Even her descriptions of scents bring the senses to life and I loved how she brought the meaning of scent and memories into the story. Scent has such a wonderful way of taking you back into time, remembering fond memories. I would definitely recommend this novel. If you are a fan of war-time stories, I think that this novel (or collection of novellas) is a definite must-read. For me, this is a re-read.

  • Deborah
    2019-05-04 16:02

    This is better seen as three parts of the same story told from different angles rather than standalone novellas. Of the three, only the second is truly self-contained; it provides useful information that informs the other two but doesn't need them to tell its story. Please keep that in mind as you read; I was very frustrated by the ending of the first book but satisfied by the end.Poor Ellie Brooke perhaps wasn't surprised to feel herself pulled into a world haunted by death from the very first page of the story, but that she felt herself literally haunted was the surprise. Why had the seeming bon vivant Laurent summoned her all the way from England to restore his garden in modern-day Porquerolles, and why did his mother regard her with such antipathy from the first? It's not hard to figure out what happened to Ellie and what-or who-is going to follow us into the next story, but the question is why. The second novel follows blind Marthe Lincel as she bravely works to use her gifts mixing scents for the kindly Mussets into something useful for the French Resistance. She is blessed with bravery and integrity; her weaknesses are, as for everyone else, other people: whom can she trust, and how can she protect those she cares for without harming others. Worse, how can she go on after a painful loss? Of all three stories, this was the one that moved me the most.The final story follows Iris Nightingale from the 1940s to the present day, and here all the strands come together. Iris works for British Intelligence, helping the French Resistance coordinate intelligence with the larger effort. Pragmatic and competent despite her young age, she nevertheless finds herself swept up into a romance with a head-or is it reckless?- French agent. Tracking down what became of him and her later resignation that she'll never know us just one of the meanings behind the title "The Shadow Life". Iris will eventually get her answers, but is the cost worth the truth?This spooky tale of romantic suspense had a slow build that made the ending more satisfying even if many of the connections were easy to spot. I would recommend this to fans of historical romance as well as paranormal suspense.

  • Bonnie
    2019-05-14 17:04

    The Sea Garden encompasses three stories linked by a single mystery in this compelling novel by Deborah Lawrenson that describes love and loss in the tumult of war. The first story is The Sea Garden set in the Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast. Ellie Brooks, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. On the boat, the inciting force takes place when a man standing close to Ellie suddenly jumps overboard to his death. She is questioned and released to continue her renovation of the garden. Her host is Laurent de Fayols and he is pleasant and excited for the work to begin. Ellie meets her foil when introduced to Mme de Fayols, a bitter, old lady who discourages Ellie from taking on the work. The garden is described in intimate detail by Laurent who says, "Gardens have always been about history and symbolism; the earthly paradise, the enclosed retreat from a cruel outside world". Ellie loses her cell phone and suspects Mme has stolen it and the drama increases until Mme tries to kill Ellie. She is saved by a man she met on the boat named Gabriel.The second story is titled The Lavender Field and takes place near the end of World War II. Marthe Lincel is a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence and finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life and discovers a courage she never expected. This section highlights the cruelty of the Germans and the resourcefulness of native resistance unit. In one scene, an American soldier hides in the barn and when Germans investigate the area, Marthe hides him in a trap door beneath her bed.The third section is titled A Shadowed Life telling the story of Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London who falls for a French agent. After a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?

  • Sandra
    2019-05-14 13:01

    I wish I had read The Lantern first, even though I don't think this book was a sequel. It has one of the characters in it. Anyway, I really liked The Sea Garden, a very indept and spellbinding novel of three stories, linked in a mystery to love and loss in WWII. It's not a quick read, but very engrossing and beautifully written. Love the cover also.From Amazon: Romance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellas—rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere—from the critically acclaimed author of The Lantern.The Sea GardenOn the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden’s owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian. . . .The Lavender FieldNear the end of World War II, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life . . . and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.A Shadow LifeIris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?Ingeniously interconnected, this spellbinding triptych weaves three parallel narratives into one unique tale of love, mystery, and murder. The Sea Garden is a vivid and absorbing chronicle of love and loss in the fog of war—and a penetrating and perceptive examination of the impulses and circumstances that shape our lives.

  • Patty
    2019-05-24 13:00

    The Sea GardenByDeborah LawrensonMy " in a nutshell" summary...This is a three novella book...beginning in Provence...with all stories linking. It takes place in the present day as well as during WWII. It has a sense of mystery and sadness trickling through it.My thoughts after reading this book...I don't usually enjoy anything that says...short stories or novellas...but this did not have the feel of a book of short really did read like a novel. The first novella was about Ellie...a landscape designer...who is on a Mediterranean Island to redesign a massive old garden.The next novella was about Marthe...a young blind woman who becomes enmeshed in the Resistance in Nazi occupied Provence. The last novella was about Iris...a junior British intelligence officer who falls in love with a man of mystery with tragic consequences.What I loved about this book...I loved each key character and their issues...Ellie's encounter with a man named Gabriel while she was on the island, Marthe's blindness and her work with the Resistance and Iris's work with the British and her short sad yet eventful relationship with Xavier...the man of mystery.I was entranced by this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this author's writing style. It was incredibly fascinating the way the stories unfolded and meshed together.Final thoughts...Although I am not a fan of novellas...not sure's just me...this book was beautifully written and lovely to read. I had much to think about and research while I was reading this book. I wasn't sure about the roll of the Resistance and how far reaching it was and I learned tons about it and its brave members.

  • Victoria
    2019-05-13 19:04

    This book opens engagingly with Ellie, a prize-winning designer of gardens. Called to an island off Southern France, Ellie comes to restore an isolated garden that seems to hide darker mysteries within. In the second section, blind Marthe has found her calling as an apprentice perfumier. This strong young woman becomes involved in France’s Resistance during WWII. And then the third part of the novel opens with Iris, a British spy during WWII, also working to aid the French Resistance. The second and third sections tie more closely together, which really makes the first part of the novel - the original hook - stick out all the more. As a novel, the book lacks a true sense of cohesion. As separate novellas, they contain interesting enough characters, but I wish that there had been stronger connections between the modern storyline and the historical counterparts. It just feels very disparate with its supernatural elements and its overall “creepy” aura that appears nowhere else in the book. And though thirty pages from the end, those connections do become a bit clearer. But at this point, it is too little too late. The ending has a rushed quality and simply isn’t satisfying. The plot holds some surprises, but with a conclusion that is “all telling and no showing” (which is actually the style for Iris’s entire section) it just feels too convenient. The book as a whole, has an interesting concept and some beautifully described settings, but all in all, it left me disappointed.

  • Sallee
    2019-04-28 16:38

    This is a three story novel, the first: The Sea Garden that takes place on the Mediterranean island of Porquerolles. Ellie Brooke has been requested to use her talent as an award winning British landscape designer. The owner of the garden, an elderly woman seems to be undermining Ellie's efforts. There are mysterious happenings and the ending is unusual. The second: A young blind girl works at a perfume factory in Nazi controlled Provence. Strange things happen around her and she realizes that she is in the middle of a Resistance group. She ends up having to make a decision that will be the most difficult of her life. This one is called The Lavender Field. The third: In A Shadow Life, Iris Nightingale who is a junior intelligence agent who finds herself falling for a French agent who disappears. When France is again free of Nazi control, Iris is determined to find out what happened to him. The book was interesting enough even though the French resistance is something that I really can't get into even though they played a major part in the war.

  • Jen
    2019-04-28 15:52

    Until the last couple of chapters I wasn't sure what to think about this book. I really enjoyed The Lantern, so I was excited to read The Sea Garden. The second short story's main character is also in The Lantern - and I think if I hadn't read it, I wouldn't have enjoyed the story in the same way. The first story went fairly quickly and so did the second, however; the third was a bit longer - however, I kept feeling like I was reading three unrelated stories. The end did pull things together, but I wish the stories would have been tied together sooner...but maybe the suspense (although I'm not sure what I felt was suspense) was what made the end what it was. That being said, the end was worth it! All three main characters were likable and the author's description of the scenery was wonderful.

  • Cathymw
    2019-05-06 16:56

    The author had many wonderfully descriptive phrases throughout the book: "the boat nosed out into sea glitter and sea spray"; "low, verdant hills berried with red roofs". It helped immerse me into the scenes of the book. The book is really a collection of 3 stories which seem unconnected until the very end of the book. The first story, about the landscape designer was somewhat eerie. She introduced the "elusive war historian" but I never figured out his significance to the story. My favorite of the three was the middle one, about the blind girl at the perfume factory. However, this is the one that seems to have the least connection to the end of the story.I enjoyed the book greatly, but was a bit frustrated at the ending. I would have liked things to be a little clearer.

  • Suzanne
    2019-04-30 16:01

    This is the literary version of a triptych, a painting that has 3 panels, each of which can stand on its own, but which give a fuller picture when viewed all together. The three separate stories, set in different times and places, all come together at the end to complete the picture.The best thing about the book is the wonderful evocation of place the author creates in all three stories. You can almost feel the baking heat of the Mediterranean island, the lavender-scented hillsides of Provence, and the rain and fog of wartime England. Good characters and a good story. Takeaway quote: "Truth is the first casualty of war."