The French Gardener: Book Review

Perhaps every marriage, every family, needs a French gardener…

Miranda and David move out of London into a beautiful country house with a magical garden. But Miranda insists on tottering across the wet lawn in kitten heels, David is never there, and the children won’t tear themselves away from the telly.

Then an enigmatic Frenchman arrives. With the wisdom of nature he slowly begins to heal the past and the present. But who is he? His secret lies in the deepest recesses of the garden, for a garden, like love itself, can restore the human spirit not just season after season, but generation after generation.

Santa Montefiore’s latest novel marks a new departure for this gifted writer. It celebrates the seductive beauty of the English countryside and the restorative powers of nature. Best of all, it offers the reader an epic love story at the heart of a novel of family life and the conflict between duty and desire.

Synopsis on Santa Montefiore’s website

How many books have you read that you couldn’t put down? For me, this one is high on my list. Santa Montefiore has wielded a story with what seems to be words of magic. The dual time perspectives, the two strong women and their stories, the scenery, and the mystery all keeps the readers glued to the pages. 

I absolutely loved Miranda’s character and her story. She was such a sweet character and deserved so much more than her stinking husband! The absolute audacity of her husband to leave this beautiful woman, tucked away in the countryside, out of the way. Although, alternatively, one could say the same about Ava and her french gardener. The difference was, Ava loved both her husband and her French Gardener. Miranda’s husband seems indifferent to the wife and children he has tucked away in the hills of the English Countryside. 

The mystery of the French Gardener character makes the story so incredibly intriguing. I love how Montefiore creates the link between the dual perspectives with this character. He is an enigma in Miranda’s timeline, but an object of dislike and then desire in Ava’s timeline, which makes the story even more alluring. Thus, the character helped glue me to the pages even more. 

I loved the relationship the French Gardener had with Miranda’s children. I loved the relationship Miranda had with some of the village locals. It was all so well written!

I would like to raise a glass to Santa Montefiore for writing such a beautiful story. She has clearly woven the love she has for the English countryside into this story. And, I absolutely love it. The magic of the countryside makes the story even more stunning and more alluring. At times the story was heart wrenching. Then the next chapter I was smiling with pure joy. My favourite part of the books was the relationship between the French Gardener and the two women. The relationships between the women and the french gardener are both different in the ways they are loving. My other favourite part was the ending when dear Peach was revealed! I was surprised by this, but so totally excited, but also pleased that she was there after learning of Ava’s fate. It was hard to believe what happened to Ava, but Montefiore wrote this part of the book beautifully. One can’t go through life thinking everything will go well, and life doesn’t always work out perfectly. 

I was reading a list of things to include in a book review, and the list says to include things I didn’t like about the book. Well, I have to be honest, there isn’t anything I disliked! I loved the book from the front cover to the end cover. Some of the outcomes for characters at the end of the novel were a bit frustrating, like Ava’s fate at the end of the novel but that has a wholesome ending with the lovely Peach. Then, Miranda’s husband comes back to her after being quite frightful to his lovely wife – but then there is a beautiful family glued back together again.  

Something I loved in the book was how I was kept intrigued throughout the book. I never knew what was coming next. The ending was perfect, perfectly rounded up. In some ways, it was sad, but however, it was satisfying. If you love a wholesome summer reading with intrigue, mystery and lots of love, then this book is for you. I find that some summer reads are often a bit dull, but this is far from that! 

I have to say, this story really cuts the mustard!

[Images: Simon & Schuster; Pixabay]

3 Exciting Cities to Consider When Vacationing in the US

This is a collaborative post. The content in this post was not written by me, however, the author is credited in the post.

Hey Everyone! Welcome to a new post. This particular post was written by Alex from WonderWithAlex. I hope you find her tips as inspiring as I do.

Austin, Texas: Outdoors, Arts and Live Music

Austin, the state capital of Texas, is a lively city known for its tech jobs, diverse culture, music festivals, art, gourmet cuisine and distinctive history. The unofficial slogan for this fun-filled city is “Keep Austin Weird.” The slogan aims to promote local businesses and preserve Austin’s unique culture. If you’ve never been to Austin, it comes highly recommended as you won’t find any other city like it in the world!

Austin Outdoors

Austin is a dream destination for those who love being outdoors. From hiking, kayaking, boating and beyond, Austin’s beautiful trails and lakes won’t be a disappointment. Zilker Metropolitan Park is Austin’s “Most-Loved Park” offering kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, swimming holes, scenic trails, and a host of other outdoor activities. Looking for a little rock climbing? Check out the Barton Creek Greenbelt! Or maybe you are looking to see a waterfall or two? Then you’ll want to hike River Place Nature Trail or McKinney Falls State Park.

Austin’s Art & Music Scene

Austin is well known for its creativity. If you’re looking for live outdoor music and art festivals, Austin is the city for you. The South by Southwest (SXSW) music and film festivals are a hot topic in Austin—offering film screenings, comedy shows, art galleries, concerts and more. Or if you happen to be in town during the Austin City Limits music festival, be sure to check it out along with 450 thousand other people! Two weekends filled with live music concerts in the middle of Zilker Park.

If you can’t make a festival while you’re in town, don’t worry! Austin’s local art and live music spaces are vast. You can find an art exhibition or live concert just about anywhere, any day of the week.

New Orleans, Louisiana : Culture, Cuisine, and Festivals

New Orleans (NOLA) is the city of music, culture, Cajun food, Creole cuisine, and colonial architecture. From the iconic New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest to authentic cuisine, this must-visit city is a melting pot of sounds and flavors.

Experience Cajun & Creole Cuisine

Many people don’t know the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine and use the terms interchangeably. While both cuisines are from New Orleans, they come from very different cultural backgrounds.

Cajun, or “country cooking” is a combination of French Acadian and Southern cuisines typically found along the bayous of Louisiana. Cajun cuisine is typically well seasoned and consists of hearty stews and soups.  Boudin, a Cajun sausage, and Jambalaya are two popular examples of Cajun cuisine. If you’re looking for authentic Cajun cuisine, Mulates, Zydecos Cajun Kitchen, and Cochon Cajun & Southern Cooking are just a few of the famous Cajun eateries in New Orleans.Creole on the other hand, is a blend of European, African, Caribbean, Native American and Hispanic cuisine. Many creole dishes are tomato based, while Cajun food is not. Creole dishes include a version of Jambalaya, authentic red beans and rice, Creole Chicken, crawfish, and more. Wondering where to find these delicious foods? Check out Mr. B’s Bistro, Café Sbisa, Mandina’s, and the bucket-list worthy Commander’s Palace

NOLA Festivals

New Orleans loves a good festival! If you’re looking to make your ears happy, then the Jazz and Heritage Festival is for you. People fly in from all over to attend this festival. Interested in learning a little culture through music? Then you’ll want to check out the VooDoo Music and Arts Experience or the Cajun Zydeco Festival. And let us not forget the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival where you can get the best of two worlds in one place– music and food.

Miami, Florida : A Beach-Worthy Vacation

If you’re looking for an entertaining vacation by the beach, then Miami, Florida is the city for you. Miami’s subtropical climate with short, warm winters, make it a highly desirable vacation destination. From islands and water sports to swimming and sunbathing, Miami’s beaches are clean, beautiful, and waiting for you. If you’re seeking a little relaxation in the sun, visit Miami!

Best Beaches

Miami has 20-miles of coastline making for the ideal beach destination. Looking for a family friendly and private beach experience, then you should check out Surfside beach on the North end. Maybe you’re looking for a little “freedom,” then you’ll want to go to Haulover Beach— it’s Miami’s famous nude beach! And of course, there’s always a good time to be had at the famous and iconic South Beach (SoBe)!

Nightlife

Looking for a party and a good time? Miami is filled with dance clubs and bars! Miami’s most popular and famous club is LIV Miami, which is known for celebrity sightings in its VIP section. Looking to be entertained? Then you’ll want to try E11even. This dance club by night, venue by day, is filled with neon lights, trapeze artists, burlesque dances, and celebrity performances. If you’re wanting something a little more seductive, Gold Rush has some of the best cabaret performers Miami has to offer. This is a very short list of your bar and club options, but Miami’s entertainment scene won’t disappoint.

Thank you so much Alex for the wonderful post! You can find more about Alex at WanderWithAlex.com