I must admit I was drawn to The Forbidden Garden by its cover, I am a sucker for a floral book jacket and the garden in the title intrigued me and since this week’s posts are dealing with earth, particularly clay, why not do a book about a garden as my book review. I have not read The Sparrow Sisters, which probably would have been a good idea since the Sparrow Sisters history is often referred to in this book. But not to worry you can get the idea of the first book and read it in the future if you enjoy this one, which by the way I did!
The story is multi layered but primarily concentrates on the history of an English garden that is in total shambles, actually, it has been dead for years, and a young gardener from the States who has been hired, because of her reputation, to bring it back to life with her unusual skills. Sorrel Sparrow and her sisters have almost magical powers when it comes to gardens and making them extraordinary. Sorrel is met at the airport by the brother of the Lady of the Manor, Andrew, and we really know from the onset that this will be a romance, how much of one I will let you read for yourself. Andrew has been put in charge of taking Sorrel around London before they drive to the Estate, this, of course, includes some of London’s magnificent gardens. I must say this and actually, most of the book made me very “homesick” for England, I truly love the UK, but by now you, my readers, know that! The story is quite layered just like the garden and holds many hidden and forbidden stories. They, of course, all come together for the climax. We have hidden rooms, secrets held for decades, families almost destroyed by the past but the main story is of a living entity, the garden and how love can make it and the people around it come back to life. To some extent, it did remind me of A Secret Garden, which we have all read, just a more “grown up version”. It seems the decayed, once magnificent, garden doesn’t wish to come back to life until Sorrel works her magic but does it spring back into bloom….perhaps! Through the years the Kirkwood women have become ill after being in the space and what does this have to do with the hideous family tapestries, one of which is missing, does the missing piece solve this puzzle, perhaps! The original garden was based on a Shakespeare Garden. I love the one I have often visited in Stratford, Canada, when I go to the Stratford Festival, and have had guided tours of the garden, not only is the layout of the garden described but each plant has meaning and is discussed. This is done in great detail in the book and Sorrel keeps a diary of each planting and does a sketch of her plans which is charmingly featured at the beginning of the book.
Did I enjoy the book, yes, very much, who won’t find a romance of a space and people delightful, would I read another Sorrel Sparrow story, absolutely. The author, Ellen Herrick, writes well, makes us like the characters, has thoroughly done her research and takes us on a most interesting journey. Please leave your comments when you have read the book, (I would highly recommend it for your book club) or have you already read it!?
From the book jacket:
“When Sorrel Sparrow is hired to restore the walled Shakespeare Garden at Kirkwood Hall—the ancestral home of Sir Graham Kirkwood and his wife, Stella—she finds desolation and shadows. According to family lore, generations have tried to return the garden to its former glory, but every attempt has failed. Determined, Sorrel vows to save the garden as only a Sparrow Sister can.
But as soon as Sorrel enters the garden, she feels a sense of heartbreak, betrayal . . . and perhaps even a dark enchantment. Intrigued by Kirkwood Hall’s history—and also by the haunting tapestries that tell its story—Sorrel, increasingly drawn to Stella’s enigmatic brother, sets to work. She slowly unravels the ancient garden’s secrets, only to learn that its destiny is irrevocably entwined with her own.”
For more on the author, Ellen Herrick go to her website www.ellenherrick.com