The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Publication Info: Published February 12th 2019 by Lake Union Publishing . Hardcover. Other editions available. The Victory Garden

Summary: Emily Bryce chafes at the restrictions placed on her by her very proper British parents. She wants to work as a nurse like her best friend, Clarice. But with the WWI battlefield death of her brother, Freddie, her parents are now overly protective of their only daughter. Besides, her upwardly mobile mother feels it isn’t proper for a young lady to do anything to help the war effort besides visiting injured soldiers in the convalescent home next door. Nothing short of someone with a title or at the very least “one of their own kind”, is good enough for Emily.

On one of these sanctioned visits to the convalescent home, Emily meets Lieutenant Robbie Kerr, a member of the Australian Royal Flying Corps. Although from very different backgrounds, Emily and Robbie fall in love. After Emily turns 21, she is free to make her own choices. With Robbie back flying in the war, she decides to volunteer as a Land Girl, working the farms in Britain to help on the home front.

With a genteel upbringing, Emily is totally unprepared to be a Land Girl, but she is young, strong, healthy and willing to work. She soon befriends the girls she works with, women of completely different stations and backgrounds. After assignments picking potatoes and sowing hay, she ends up working for Lady Charleston, tending her large garden. She and two other women live in the tumble-down cottage on the estate.

After she learns that Robbie was killed in a plane crash, she discovers she is pregnant. Remembering her mother’s sharp criticism of another unwed mother, Emily decides to remain with Lady Charleston as companion, gardener and library organizer, rather than return home.  Emily blossoms as she continues to gain independence and learn skills in herbalism from an old book she found in the cottage.

But someone doesn’t like Emily and is determined to see her gone.

Comments: I’m a huge Rhys Bowen fan and I particularly like her stand-alone novels. I recently reviewed The Tuscan Child. I liked that book, but I like The Victory Garden better. Like her other historical fiction, the author uses the time period as a backdrop to the lives of her characters and doesn’t spend a lot of time on specific historical details. In The Victory Garden, the author does a credible job of describing English countryside life during WWI. But for me, it is the characters that shine, which is what I like most in her writing.

I absolutely devour Rhys Bowen’s books. She can’t write them fast enough for me to read them. I look forward to whatever she’s publishing next!

Highly recommended for fans of Historical Fiction, General Fiction or Women’s Fiction.

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