Title: The Sea Garden
Author: Deborah Lawrenson
Source: from publisher for TLC Book Tour
Review Summary: The first of three interconnected stories didn’t work for me, but I enjoyed the second two and loved the way the three stories worked together to provide a richer experience.
Since this story is not just a dual narrative but a triple narrative, for the full explanation you’ll want to visit goodreads. The first storyline follows a British garden designer hoping a commission on a beautiful island will be her chance to break into the international scene. However, once she realizes that her clients are eccentric and possibly malicious, she’s not sure the job is worth the risk. The second story is that of a young blind woman living in Nazi-occupied France with a difficult decision to make. And the third story is that of a British intelligence agent during WWII who falls for a French agent who disappears, suggesting he might have had hidden allegiances. The way these three stories connect is a surprise.
The first scene in this book immediately highlighted the author’s amazing talent for bringing a location vividly to life. I think what made her descriptions work so well for me is the level of detail she includes. It’s not too much, not too little, matching what I think I’d notice if I were actually there. The first story was not as enjoyable as I expected based on that first scene. It was a bit trippy, with hints of the supernatural or a conspiracy or both. I found it a little too confusing and finished this section unsure what had just happened. By the end, I considered this first section worthwhile for its impact on the story as a whole, but I didn’t love reading it.
The second and third stories were both fantastic. I continued to enjoy the author’s evocative writing but also started to love the plot. Both of these sections featured somewhat untraditional, very brave female protagonists. I thought they were both incredible and a ton of fun to read about. The layering of the three stories, each one adding more information and getting closer to the heart of the matter, gave this story a lot of depth. It was a very unique way to tell a multi-narrative story, sequential instead of alternating, and I think it worked beautifully. The overall effect was to give the ending a lot of emotional impact. I admire the author’s choice to tell a story in a unorthodox way and would love to read more of her work.