Gardeners, historians, Downton Abbey devotees, and Anglophiles will love The Last Garden in England for those reasons alone. But this novel by Julia Kelly is far more.
It is the three different generations of main characters in 1907, 1944, and 2021 woven together by one English garden who will keep you turning pages.
In 1907 renowned garden designer Venetia Smith creates a garden for the English country estate Highbury House. Not only does the artistic Venetia build a garden destined to be famous, she also finds her soul mate. 1944 during WW II, a Land Girl named Beth comes to Highbury House to help on a nearby farm freeing men up to fight the war. The WW II Land Girls were a carry over from the law passed in 1917 for the same reason in WW I. Like our own Rosie the Riveter in factories, British women working in agriculture allowed men farmers to go fight the Germans.
The book opens in the present day when Master Gardener Emma is called to Highbury House to restore Venetia’s brilliantly designed garden that has fallen into disrepair. And, as is in many good British novels, there are dark family secrets to uncover, mysteries to be solved. I only wish the book had colored photos of the luscious flowers Kelly describes.