I love France #53: Book review: The Lavender Garden


I plan to publish this meme every Thursday.

You can share here about any book

or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

Please spread the news on Twitter, Facebook, etc !

Feel free to grab my button,

and link your own post through Mister Linky,

at the bottom of this post.


The Lavender Garden


Lucinda RILEY

416 pages

Publication date:  June 11, 2013, by Atria Books

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received a free e-copy of this book
Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post,
and the thoughts are my own.
The publisher link above will take you to a site
where you can purchase a copy.*

Lavender Garden

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     Books on France    hf-reading-challenge-2013

New Authors 2013 Whats in a name 6


Rating system

And another Eiffel Tower under gorgeous and well-deserved fireworks for this book on France!

Now: take a young woman, trying to figure out who her family really was, where they are coming from, as she witnesses the death of her mother.

Choose also 2 countries, France and England, 2 different time periods, Second World War and the 1990s. Then at one point get these 2 groups of people to connect. Add to that a garden where dangerous secrets are buried [beware, there can be more to lavender than the beautiful fields in Provence], plus richly characterized people, some linked with elements of romance. Don’t forget some gothic points à la Rebecca, in a big old château, and oh of course the central role played by a book in The Lavender Garden.
What’s the result? If you had not read the title of this post, I bet you would have answered: a book by Kate Morton. And you are right, it could absolutely be.

The neat thing is that this book is as beautifully intricate as Morton’s books, but was written by ANOTHER talented historical novelist (the more the merrier, let them come!), coming from Ireland this time, not Australia.

I absolutely LOVED this book, with its focus on the French Resistance and the tough women part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive mission.

I loved the real depth of the young and old characters, how their much-layered inner conflicts were conveyed, as they are set in death and life situations. I loved the old French château (built in 1750) and its library, and its connection to the plot.

I loved some funny quirky images – see examples in the Quotations section here below.

I wanted to “kick in the b*” Emilie, just like what I wanted to do to Rebecca’s narrator. But then, she actually grows in a lovely way throughout the novel, inspired by the heroism of her ancestors.

Even though I could guess most of the upcoming twists and turns, it was still extremely enjoyable. If you like historical novels set in France during Second World War, this book is a must.


  • “[Emilie] gazed out the window at the wisps of cloud suspended like uncooked meringues in the blue sky.”   p.1
  • “The July evening was excruciatingly hot, and Connie, in the tight-fitting bodice of her emerald-green evening dress, felt like a trussed-up chicken put on too warm a setting in the oven.”  p.114


The internationally bestselling author of The Orchid House takes readers from Nazi-occupied Paris to the contemporary glamor of the Cote D’Azur in an emotionally gripping novel of love, duty, and desire. With her dazzling novels The Orchid House and The Girl on the Cliff, Lucinda Riley effortlessly transported readers between distant times and locations and earned accolades from reviewers and readers around the world. In The Lavender Garden, her most powerful novel so far, she tells the mesmerizing tale of heroism and betrayal inside an aristocratic French family across half a century.

La Cote d’Azur, 1998: In the south of France, Emilie de la Martinières finds herself the sole inheritor of her childhood home, a magnificent chateau and vineyard. With the house comes a mountain of debt—and almost as many questions: What was the purpose of the secret room she finds hidden beneath the wine cellars? Why did her beloved father never speak of his decorated service in Word War II? Why has Emilie always felt at odds with her own family background?

Paris, 1944: A British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from the Resistance, she stumbles into a socially prominent family who entertains members of the German elite even as they plot to liberate France. In a city rife with collaborators and Resistance members, Constance’s most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart.

As Emilie discovers what really happened to her family during the war and finds a connection to Constance much closer than she suspects, the chateau itself may provide clues that can unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future. [Goodreads]


Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and during her childhood traveled extensively abroad, particularly to the Far East to visit her father.

Moving to London she became an actress working in film, theater and television. Five years ago she designed and built a house on the island of Koh Chang in Thailand, where her father had purchased land many years before. Her passion for history combined with her love of travel, and Thailand in particular, inspired her to write her novel Hothouse Flower, published by Penguin in November 2010.

She currently lives in Norfolk and France with her husband and four children.


Goodreads readers

* Thanks to Lisa at Just Another Rabid Reader for inspiring me to add these lines and for sharing her own template. This is one of the multiple fruit of book blogger collaboration during Armchair BEA!




Just a reminder guys:

If you link your own post on France,

please if possible

include the title of the book or topic in your link:

name of your blog (name of the book title or topic):

example : me @ myblog (Camus)



14 thoughts on “I love France #53: Book review: The Lavender Garden

  1. Pingback: 2013 – Books on France challenge – My list | Words And Peace

  2. Pingback: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2013 | Words And Peace

  3. Pingback: New Authors Reading Challenge 2013 | Words And Peace

  4. Pingback: What’s in a Name 6 Reading Challenge | Words And Peace

  5. Hi, I just noticed this review and wondered if you would like to link it in to the current monthly collection of books that people loved on Carole’s Chatter. This is the link There are already some great books linked in that you might be interested in. It would be super if you came on over. Cheers


  6. I have this book waiting for me on my shelf. 🙂 Courtesy of the publisher. I love Lucinda Riley’s Books.

    THANKS for sharing your thoughts. Nice blog.

    Stopping by from Carole’s Books You Loved June Edition. I am in the list as #31.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Book Entry


  7. Pingback: 2013 Ebook Reading Challenge | Words And Peace

  8. Pingback: Blogiversary #3! A to Z survey | Words And Peace

What do you think? Share your thoughts, and I will answer you. I will also visit your own blog

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.