53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
An Engaging and Entertaining Read. 3.5 Stars,
This review is from: The Sea Garden (Hardcover)
A warmly engaging story, Marcia Willett's latest novel 'The Sea Garden' is a pleasure to read. The story centres on Jess Penhaligon, a young artist just out of university, who has won the David Porteous award for her botanical painting. We first meet her when she is travelling to Devon to stay with David's widow, Kate, a warm and friendly woman, who welcomes Jess readily into her home and family life. Jess, who has always felt rather alone since the death of her much loved father, feels very comfortable with Kate in her lovely Devon cottage, and both she and Kate are delighted when they discover that Jess has a connection with Kate and Kate's family that previously none of them knew existed.
While Jess is staying with Kate, she is introduced to Kate's long time friend, Cass, and Cass's husband, Tom, and their grown-up children: Gemma (who is married to and having marital difficulties with Kate's son, Guy) and the very attractive Oliver. Jess also becomes acquainted with the Trehearne family who have lived in their old family home with a wonderful sea garden leading down to the river Tamar for generations. When Jess is invited down to the Trehearne's home by the matriarch of the family, the very elderly Lady Rowena Trehearne, she gradually discovers that Rowena has an ulterior motive for the invitation, involving a secret from the past that has a significant bearing on her own life - but I won't say more as I have no wish to spoil the story for prospective readers.
Moving backwards and forwards in time and with some lovely descriptions of the West Country, Marcia Willett deftly examines the dynamics of family life through a cast of interesting characters who experience a variety of emotionally difficult situations. Full of comforting, homely details such as the smell of fresh linen, the aroma of coffee percolating on the stove, endless china cups of reviving tea and busy family meals around battered pine tables, I found this an engaging, easily readable and entertaining story; it won't challenge or amaze you with a clever plot and it won't win any great literary awards, but it is a lovely warm and romantic story to sink into while you are relaxing on the sofa or tucked up in bed - and sometimes that's just what we need, isn't it?