“The future is yet unwritten; the past is burnt and gone”
This is a story across four generations of the happiness and suffering of the women who came to live in Nightingale House. Initially we meet Liddy and her artist husband Ned Horner living in the house she had inherited from her mother. They seem to have lived an idyllic married life in the house and garden but now in 1918 tragedy has touched them. But the story moves back in time to describe the time when Liddy lived in London and she and her sister Mary met penniless Ned and his generous friend Dalbeattie, an architect. Their interactions are the basis for an incredible saga and the repercussions continue into the next two generations. Reading of Liddy’s cruel treatment at home, where she is subject to gaslighting, is hard, but her inner strength carries her through to a future with Ned.
In contrast, we suddenly move forward to a typical 21st century family, meeting Liddy’s great grand-daughter, Juliet an art historian, struggling to bring up 3 children in a troubled marriage. The descriptions of a teenager, small girl and a toddler are hilarious and realistic, and I could feel for Juliet as she tried to maintain her professionalism at work with so little support from her husband. Discovering she has inherited Nightingale House changes her life dramatically and is not welcomed by her children. In many ways I preferred reading about Juliet to the story of Liddy and of Stella, Juliet’s grandmother, but they are essential to the person Juliet is, to her love for the house and garden and her intense interest in art.
The descriptions of the garden, the Doll’s House and the Dovecote, used as Ned’s studio, are vivid and pleasurable and the context of Edwardian art, fascinating to read. A book which should appeal to those who like contemporary or historical novels with an enticing mystery to keep you interested to the very end.
The Garden of Lost and Found on Amazon UK