The Memory Garden by Rachel Hore

Synopsis:

Magical Cornwall, a lost garden, a love story from long ago…
Lamorna Cove – a tiny bay in Cornwall, picturesque, unspoilt. A hundred years ago it was the haunt of a colony of artists. Today, Mel Pentreath hopes it is a place where she can escape the pain of her mother’s death and a broken love affair, and gradually put her life back together.

Renting a cottage in the enchanting but overgrown grounds of Merryn Hall, Mel embraces her new surroundings and offers to help her landlord, Patrick Winterton, restore the garden. Soon she is daring to believe her life can be rebuilt. Then Patrick finds some old paintings in an attic, and as he and Mel investigate the identity of the artist, they are drawn into an extraordinary tale of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from a century ago, a tale that resonates in their own lives. But how long can Mel’s idyll last before reality breaks in and everything is threatened?

Shifting imperceptibly from one generation to another, The Memory Garden vividly evokes the lives of two women, born a century apart, but who face the same challenges to their happiness and survival.

I loved this novel ♥ This is the first Rachel Hore novel that I have read, and I am so glad I bought this book. I have already leant it out to others and reserved another book at the library by Hore. This is a beautiful novel set in rural Cornwall, full of history, love, secrets and flowers. The book follows Mel as she hides away in a secluded cottage under the pretence of writing a book about local artists, but really mending her broken heart. The man she has rented the cottage from, Patrick, is also suffering from a break-up, once where she won’t go away. They strike up a friendship over the garden, pulling it up and discovering new secrets of the old house Patrick lives in. Mel investigates the life of this mysterious artist, and in the process re-builds her own life.

This is just a stunning book that I can’t rate highly enough. While reading this I was reminded of both The Forgotten Garden and The Secret Garden. This book is a cross between the two, and as I loved both of them, this did not let me down. It is a simple story line: girl moves to Cornwall, discovers an old secret about a love affair, and falls in love herself, but I think the simplicity of the book is one of the things that makes it special. Along with the descriptions of both the bay where artists painted and the grounds and gardens of Merryn Hall, this was just beautiful.

This book did jump back to the past so we could learn about this secret artist – Polly, a maid, and her love affair. I enjoyed these sections – seeing how life can change for one girl, and what love can do to you. The history seemed accurate enough and I liked how the reader was given a glimpse into the time when the house was at its most majestic and that the reader was allowed to get to know Polly and the events surrounding her life.

There were some fantastic characters in the book, to go along with the great storyline and wonderful descriptions. I liked both Mel and Polly. I found myself empathising with them and wanting to know what was going to happen. I loved the people in the quiet town of Lamorna Cove that Mel meets. They were believable characters and people I would like to know! My favourite character was probably John the head gardener when Polly was at Merryn Hall though. Although we didn’t see a lot of him, he was strong and silent and as the novel unfolds his good nature comes through and he plays a very important role in what happens to Merryn Hall and its residents.

This was not a fast read, but very enjoyable. Like I said, I have been recommending this novel and lending my copy out because I really enjoyed it. It was a great read and for those who like woman’s books and historical novels, this is well worth reading. Top marks from me, I can’t recommend it enough.

5/5

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