Thursday, 16 June 2011
The Summer Season by Julia Williams
Passions flare, secrets unravel and love blossoms in the heart of the summer season. As summertime flourishes, it's time for new beginnings! Heartsease House is in desperate need of renovation. Its owner, widower Joel, is struggling to come to terms with life as a single dad. His plans to refurbish the house and garden suddenly seem like one burden too many. Mum to twin girls, Lauren's life is a constant juggling act. When her ex Troy turns up she's determined to keep her distance while he gets to know his daughters. But it's a lot harder than she imagined ! Then erstwhile guerrilla gardener Kezzie bursts into their lives with her infectious enthusiasm to restore the gardens of Heartsease. But who is Kezzie? And what is she running away from? As the warm days of summer draw closer, Heartsease House and its beautiful love-knot garden are transformed. But will Joel, Kezzie and Lauren be able to restore their own hearts? Kick off your sandals, enjoy a glass of rose and escape into a gorgeous novel this summer with Julia Williams.
This is a book with two definite stories, set in the same place but over 100 years apart. Heartease House is where Joel lives with his young son, Sam. It is the family home and has been passed through the generations. There is a large garden with the property which Edward
Handford designed for his wife, Lillian. It is them who the second story is about, the story of the knot garden. A couple who have had much happiness in their lives but also a huge amount of sadness.
In the modern day, Joel is trying to bring up his young son alone, following the sudden death of his wife, Clare, helped by his wife's friend, Lauren, who has twin daughters, Izzie and Immie. Joel is finding life as a single parent a struggle, having no time or enthusiasm to renovate the house and its garden, as was the plan when Clare was alive. Kezzie moves into the village following the breakup of her relationship with Richard, into her aunts house and one night decides to embark in some 'Guerrilla Gardening' as she has done in London, when she stumbles upon the hidden gardens at Heartsease House.
The story of Edward and Lillian is set over 100 years ago, where Edward sets upon designing the garden of Heartsease House for his bride, Lillian. In future years, following the loss of two babies, these too are remembered in the garden. Edward and Lillian carry on to have three healthy children, one which they later loose in war. Their story is one of sadness and secrets kept within the family.
I really enjoyed this book, the two love stories intertwining throughout the book, the family secrets being discovered while Kezzie undertakes the renovation of Heartsease House Gardens, with her wish being to recreate the garden that Edward created for Lillian. The finding of a chest filled with old love letters, diaries and plans enables Lizzie to do this.
The author tells the stories of both eras really well. Williams has said that the idea for the book came partly from a knot garden that she visited and also from the house and garden where her husband grew up and it can seen throughout this book that Williams has done much research into knot gardens,plants and meanings of flowers to ensure that this book is correct in all ways.
There are also other themes included within this book alongside gardens: single parents, death of a spouse and the effect on the remaining partner and the complicated topic of love and relationships.
I absolutely loved this book and have already been recommending it to friends and random strangers in my local WHSmiths (other bookshops available of course). It is a definite great summer read - perfect for a beach read or relaxing in the garden of a sunny afternoon/evening.
Thank you to Avon for sending me this book to review.