The Garden of Lost and Found is a sweeping, epic novel covering several generations of a family from the late 1800s to the present day. At more than 500 pages, it really does deserve that title epic although it really didn’t feel like a long book at all. I had saved it for reading on holiday so I could curl up and get lost in the story. Once I read the first few pages, I was hooked.
I really don’t want to give away too much about the plot but this is the story of a famous painting, a grand old house and a family living with secrets and tragedy. It is told mostly through the eyes of Liddy, who is the wife of famous artist Ned Horner and Juliet, her great granddaughter, with some glimpses into the lives of the generations in between.
One thing that really struck me when reading the book was the contrasts in family lives and experiences for the different generations. Juliet loves her children fiercely and while trying to do best for them, never seems to quite get it right, at least in her children’s eyes. Liddy and her siblings had a very different experience with a cruel nursemaid and a father who didn’t seem to notice or care. It was actually painful to read about Liddy’s childhood and how damaging it was to her. Not surprisingly, she was determined that her own children would know only love and kindness. Attitudes to all kinds of different relationships changed over time but what remained the same was the loving support of family and friends for Liddy and for Juliet.
Harriet Evans writes so beautifully that I was drawn into the world of Nightingale House. I could picture it so clearly in my mind whether it was the grand house that Ned and Liddy shared, the slightly decaying version that Juliet moves to or even the doll’s house version so loved by the children throughout the generations. She creates an image of a bygone golden era but shows also how it all came crashing down so suddenly, with the repercussions reverberating through the decades which followed.
I was completely enthralled by this book the whole time I was reading it, whether it was Juliet’s part of the story or Liddy’s. I found The Garden of Lost and Found to be a hugely satisfying read, a real contender for my top read this year. It is the first Harriet Evans book I’ve read but it definitely won’t be the last.
My thanks to Becky Hunter and Headline for sending me an early review copy of this book. The Garden of Lost and Found will be published this Thursday 18th April in hardback and ebook formats. It will be available to buy or order from your usual book retailer or you can order a Kindle copy here: The Garden of Lost and Found
From the back of the book
Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.
Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted The Garden of Lost and Found, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.
One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…
When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.
Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?
About the author
I live in London with my partner and our two daughters. I love books. We all love books in fact. My favourite authors are Elizabeth Jane Howard, Rosamunde Pilcher, Dorothy Whipple, Nancy Mitford and of course Georgette Heyer.
The books I love are ones that take you into a different world and wholly absorb you, about families and secrets and magical places. I write the books I want to read, that’s the most important thing of all. If you’d like to get in touch I’d love to hear from you. Please visit my website: http://www.harriet-evans.com/
Or follow me on Twitter @HarrietEvans