Monday, January 04, 2021

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly, a multi-period novel centered on an Edwardian garden

A country house in rural Warwickshire is the scene for Kelly’s touching, immersive read, which has definite appeal for aficionados of Downton Abbey and Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008). Over a century, five distinctive women are connected through a historic Edwardian garden, each struggling in different ways between family and societal expectations and achieving their hearts’ desires. 

In 1907, Venetia Smith arrives to design an elaborate new garden for Highbury House’s wealthy residents. Decades later, the British home front comes alive through the tales of Highbury’s widowed young owner, her restless cook, and a neighboring land girl as the estate is requisitioned during wartime. Lastly, a contemporary designer uncovers mysteries while aiming to replicate Venetia Smith’s original plans.

Subplots involving love, loss, and hope for new beginnings gracefully intertwine, and readers will be enraptured by the garden theme, from the labor and artistic expression involved in their craftsmanship to the therapeutic power of nature’s beauty. Like gardens themselves, these pages invite lingering and thoughtful reflection.

The Last Garden in England is published by Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster on January 12th.  I read it back in August last year and reviewed it for the 10/15/20 issue of Booklist from an Edelweiss e-copy. Isn't the cover beautiful?


  1. Wow... the cover is stunning! And this book honestly sounds fantastic - definitely have to add it to my TBR list!