Most helpful positive review
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Charming, twee and just a little bit magical--read it!
on 24 June 2011
I've never read one of Santa Montefiore's books before, but I was drawn to this one as the summary sounded a little bit magical and combined another one of my favourite things with romance- gardening. I'm happy to confirm that I actually really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more of her novels in future. This was a nice, easy read and I think it would make a great story to settle down with on holiday- none too taxing but with a wonderful plot that keeps you entertained.
A brief summary of the story: when Miranda Claybourne and her husband David acquire the huge Hartington House, they're expecting things to be idyllic with their new start in the country- only Miranda is lonely and David still has one foot firmly in his London life. The gardens in the beautiful old house are neglected, so when Jean-Paul, a French gardener arrives on her doorstop it seems only fitting that he should try and bring the garden back to life- only transforming gardens isn't the only thing it seems the mysterious Frenchman is good at....
What a superb story- I really loved it! The plot contains excellent scene setting and well-developed characters as it switches between the two eras portrayed within it, though not all characters are particularly likeable. I most certainly didn't warm to Miranda's arrogant husband David or her brattish son Gus, or even find Miranda herself that likeable at first. I did however think her daughter Storm was a real cutie and some of the villagers were just charming- particularly gay hairdresser Troy and gift shop owner Henrietta, as well as neighbour Jeremy. Characters make or break a story and for me the majority of the ones in this book were a hit- particularly the secondary ones. The village life and ambiance too was incredibly well depicted and as a reader you can imagine yourself in Hartington- wandering into surly Cate's cake shop for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, or strolling through the Claybourne's incredible cottage garden or wildflower meadow. I was expecting a book about the upper classes and that's certainly what I got here (you also don't have to enjoy gardening to appreciate this book by the way)!
This book rather puts me in mind of the writing style by Jo Jo Moyes with its mix of poignancy, humour and romance- so if you're a fan of hers then I think you'd definitely enjoy this book, and vice-versa. Similarly, I'd also recommend Erica James Novels too. Based on this book my personal recommendations for other novels with gardening and romance are:
Erica James- "Gardens of Delight"
Jo-Jo Moyes- "Night Music"
Annie Sanders- "Goodbye Jimmy-Choo"