Hastings District Libraries

Monday, 20 November 2017

A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde

“Lorna, a talented gardener and Philly a young Irish plantswoman come together through their love of plants and gardens to work in the grounds of a beautiful manor house in the Cotswolds. For both of them finding love has been unsuccessful.”
So starts the blurb for this the latest from the prolific romance author Katie Fforde. Romance is not my normal fiction of choice, but the covers of her book are whimsically appealing and almost beg to be picked up and perused. However, reading this book was a bit like watching the TV series Married at First Sight. I seemed to spend my time alternately wanting to shake Philly and Lorna and throttle the male characters for beating about the bush so much. Does no-one know how to communicate with anyone these days?
As a romance novel, the path to finding and holding onto love figures highly throughout the book. We follow the journey of these two characters as they come to grips with attraction, frustration, troublesome parents and children, a reminder of a past life and a seemingly overwhelming inability to be able to make decisions about their lives.
What I want to know is what lies behind those ash trees at back of the garden’ (Lorna).
I loved the idea of the secret garden and having lived in a house that had its own walled garden I know they can be wonderful mysterious, mystical places especially when they are hidden away. The answer seemed a long time coming. I waited and waited for the garden to materialise, especially given that it is in the title of the book and also the blurb. In fact the garden is so secret that it isn’t discovered until quite a lot of the story has been read, and even then it seems almost to be tacked on at the end of the story as an afterthought. I am also amazed that someone who called herself a gardener by vocation could not know that there was a garden hidden away on the property she worked on, even when it was a large sprawling property.
Despite everything written above, I do understand why Katie Fforde is so popular. Her books are easy to read, take us out of the humdrum of our own lives and allow us if only for an instant, to be onlookers in a society populated by people named Lucien, Philomena (Philly) and Seamus and where the message being shouted out loud is that people can find and keep love at any age, young, middle or old and that there is somebody out there for everyone.

Reviewed by Fiona

Catalogue link:  The Secret Garden

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