Katie Fforde is always a reliable light read. I was of course attracted to a book which has so much in it about gardening. Philly is a young woman who lives with her charming grandfather and runs a small nursery. Her best customer is Lorna, an older woman who is restoring the garden of a big house. The house belongs to Peter, whom she’s known forever and has a tendresse for but he’s taken up with an extremely managing younger woman whom he met on the internet. Peter’s mother Anthea is one of those formidably energetic seventy-somethings we’d all like to be one day. Two more characters then enter the scene: Jack, a sculptor and Lucien, a handsome young man who has broken with his grand family in order to follow his dreams and become a chef.
The garden restoration is perhaps too quickly and easily achieved but this is fiction and at least Katie Fforde bothers to put in some plant names. The ‘Secret Garden’ of the title is found at the bottom of Anthea’s garden: it has a wall and a door covered in brambles and everything! No need of a robin to show the way. This is also transformed remarkably quickly into a magical place.
There are three sets of lovers in this book and it’s nice that two of them are older couples. Lorna’s doubts and fears about starting a new relationship in her fifties are very convincingly described. I found the book a little thin but enjoyed it very much while I was actually reading it. Gardens and happy endings: what’s not to like?
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