Monday, July 14, 2014

From Modern-Day Horror to Historical World War II, The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson Tells More Than One Story

The Sea Garden: A NovelAn interesting book. Very interesting. And different. It begins in modern times, with this garden designer traveling to an island off the coast of France to restore a memorial garden. But things go wrong on the boat there, immediately giving the story a sinister feel and it certainly sucked me in and grabbed my attention. A man just...walks...overboard.

Yes, you read that right.

And then it gets better with things missing and a very strange old lady...and something about this old lady tells me there's something shocking to come.

The modern story felt almost like a horror, at least to me...then it suddenly goes back to the war, to a blind girl who has a way with perfume and uses her skills--both knowingly and unknowingly--to aid the French Resistance, Americans, and British.

I think she was my favorite. I really didn't want her part to end. She is so brave and handles her disability in an admirable way. I wish I'd handled my own so maturely so quickly.

And then it switches again, to a woman operative in England and the people she knows and the people she watches go to France on covert missions. And at 75% I still couldn't see how these three stories tied together. I only saw one common denominator: a radio operative. It was at this point that I began to get impatient. I like some clues, at least.

And then it concluded, leaving me confused on a few points, namely one, and I can't reveal what it is without spoiling the book, so... But I kept asking, "But why is she...." And though I loved the blind girl's story best of all, I am left wondering how exactly it ties into the other two. There's no connection beyond a brief scene at the end. The blind girl and the others were two ships barely passing in the night. Surely they could have been tied in better than that?

BUT I loved, absolutely loved, reading about the Radio Game. (I'm not going to spoil that either) How spine chilling! I am wondering if this is a piece of true history. *Edit. Author assures me this did indeed occur. How fascinating! Never ran into this in all the WWII books I've read.*

I received this digital galley via Edelweiss.


  1. Hello - this looks like serendipity! I just happened to do a internet search to see if anyone has read The Sea Garden, and found you. First of all, thank you so much for your thoughtful review. I wouldn't normally respond, but it looks from here as if you read the galley version, which I don't think has the quite lengthy Author's Note at the end of the book - please let me know if I am wrong. Anyway, this might explain a few issues you raise, not least that A Shadow Life is very much based on fact, and the Radio Game did actually happen. If you would like me to send you a doc.file of the Author's Note, please send me a message through my website: Actually, the Reading Guide on there has most of the points contained in it.There are a few more connections with The Lavender Field, though my intention was always to keep them subtle.
    All the best, Deborah

  2. I welcome comments! And I'm glad to know that was a bit of real history. Thanks for sharing that. How fascinating. I've never come across that "scheme" before in all the WWII books I've read.

  3. Glad to help! BTW, if you want to message me about the questions you had at the end of the book, I'd be happy to answer. If you do it via my website, there won't be any spoilers on here.