Book Review: The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore

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I used to be completely against the ‘trashy romance’ genre because they are usually cliché and very predictable. I held onto this opinion until I read Santa Montefiore. You could put a few of her books into this ‘trashy romance’ genre, however, The French Gardener was a beautiful, heartwarming read from start to finish.

Based in the stunning British countryside at a country house, this novel focuses on the lives of two women whose lives are completely changed when a French Gardener comes to stay. Yes, the same French Gardener. Miranda and her family move into a beautiful country home with a magical garden – except her husband lives in London during the week and is becoming more and more distant. When a French Gardener turns up to help their garden, Miranda investigates his past and learns about the woman who last lived here.

I have to say – this would be one of my favourite books I’ve read this year. It’s a great summer read, easy to read while on holiday or just at home, but it will keep you hooked! I was so excited to read every chapter. There are two different POVS – one of Miranda, and the other of the woman who last lived at the country house. I personally love this style of writing and Santa Montefiore did it well. Sometimes I find writers do different POVs and there is always one that I don’t like, but no in the case of this book. I loved both women, they were both written perfectly and uniquely.

The overall plot of the book was really good, I thought. With the two different POVs, there was always something happening, and it was always intriguing. What Montefiore did well was to intertwine these two POVs, which meant that the mystery of the story was always present. The characters were also really well written – in both POVs. There was no double up of characters – each character was unique. It felt like each character had an entire story and deserved a whole book about themselves. They all felt real as well, which was amazing. The characters weren’t perfect, sometimes they made really annoying decisions – but real people do that don’t they? Sometimes authors don’t develop side characters as much, because they are side characters, but I feel like Montefiore did this really well.

I’ve been told with book reviews that one must always mention something they didn’t like about the book. Personally, I loved it and I have recommended it to my best friend (which I wouldn’t do unless I knew the book was worthwhile). It can be slow at times and it is a bit different from other Santa Montefiore books that I have read. I think if you’re looking for a Nicholas Sparks-esque kind of book, then this isn’t quite the same. Think Jojo Moyes and Danielle Steele. If you’re looking for a well-researched, comfortable read filled with love, friendship, and good vibes, then I recommend this book!

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts!

8 Must Read Cozy Books

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Have you ever found yourself trapped inside on a cold, snowy, or rainy day? Or perhaps you need another cosy read before you go to bed? I often find myself scrolling through book lists and Goodreads to find the perfect cosy read to lose myself in. I have found 8 books that you will love! They aren’t all bestsellers, but they are the best cosy reads I have found so far.


The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

This story is a bit different from the rest and has not been recommended enough! Based in Botswana, the story follows Mma Romatswe – the only female private detective in the country. She can solve anything! From con men to missing husbands, she’s can get to the bottom of it. This is such a brilliant read, and it is part of a series! If you haven’t read it yet, then take this as your sign to buy it.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

An absolute classic! This is one of my favourite books! The perfect read for a rainy day, or when you are wrapped up in a blanket but still need an adventure. If you are a lover of fantasy but you don’t feel like dedicating yourself to a huge read or a big series, then this is perfect. The Hobbit follows the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, who is taken on an adventure to take back the home of Dwarves from a greedy dragon. Sounds perfect, right?

The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore

Do you like stories set in the countryside? What about stories filled with the perfect amount of intrigue and romance? Then this is the book for you. I’ve read a few of Santa Montefiore’s books, but this is my favourite so far. The story follows two women who live in a country house in Devon, UK – Miranda Claybourne in 2004, and Ava Lightly in the 1980s. When a french gardener visits them, in both time periods, both women find their life-changing – and possibly for the better.

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

Top London PR Agent to local Cotswolds Slueth, this story follows Agatha Raisin as she moves to the Cotswolds from London and becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation. She puts her top notch investigating skills to work and tries to clear her name. This story is charming and absolutely love the rest of the series. I highly recommend it!

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Based in the last year of World War 1, this book is a heartwarming story with a bit of adventure and lots of love. It follows Emily Bryce as she tries to make a difference for her country after leaving the comforts of her family estate and her strict parents. She becomes a land girl, falls in love and finds an old mystery. This is such a beautiful story, and one I would recommend reading for your next cosy read.

The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

Another book by Alexander McCall Smith! This book is very different to the other book written by McCall Smith, but it’s just as good. Based in Edinburgh, this book follows the adventure of Isabel Dalhousie, the editor in chief of ‘Review of Applied Ethics’, after she sees a man fall from the upper circle of a concert hall. Of course, she must investigate, but she also must do this against the advice of her close friends and family. This book is also the first in a series! So if you loved this one, you’ll have other stories to fall in love with.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Do you like heartwarming stories? Well, do I have a story for you! This was first recommended to me by my mother and I am glad she did. This is a fantastic read, and one that can be read in a day or two. It’s the 1960s, and Lily Owens, a resident of South Carolina, lost her mother when she was young. After Rosaleen, her stand in mother, is arrested, Lily sets them both free and sets off to Tiburon, which might have the secrets to her mothers past. Intrigued? I bet! This is such a beautiful book, and a perfect cosy read.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Another classic! You may have seen the Narnia films, or have heard of them. Have you heard of the books? This book, which the first Narnia film is based on, is such a brilliant cosy read. It is an adventure from start to finish as the Pevensie siblings are sent away from home during the London Blitz and then as they discover the world of Narnia. As one installment in the Chronicles of Narnia, there is more to be explored, but this story is the perfect choice for a cosy read.

Did you like this reading list? I hope you found your next cozy read. Let me know your thoughts! Have you read any of these, or do you have any cozy book recommendations?

8 Must Read Heartwarming Books

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Sometimes all you need is a good, heartwarming book. Perhaps you want one that will make you smile, or one to make you think, or one to make you sad. Either way, I have a list of books that will warm your soul one way or another.



The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

I first found this book when I was staying at a hotel in Borneo at one of those book swaps – where you give a book and take a book. An adventure from South Africa all the way to Sweden, this book will have you hooked.

The story follows the main character, Nombeko, who seems to have the fate of the King of Sweden and the rest of the world on her shoulders as she tries to run away from the secret service.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This would have to be one of my favourite books. It is heartwarming from start to finish. Many of you will know the film, if not, I recommend watching that as well because it is such a good adaptation of this heartwarming story!

Lou Clarke as she finds herself in a new job, one she wasn’t expecting. Will Traynor finds himself without the will to live after a motorcycle accident. The story follows how love can be a powerful force, but will it powerful enough to save both of them?

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

This story is an absolute classic! I fell in love with it when it was adapted into a film, and then again when I read the book. It is worth the read, and the 1994 film is amazing as well!

It’s about the adventures of a beautiful black horse, Black Beauty, in Victorian England and is told through the eyes of the horse protagonist. He starts out on a farm where he is loved, and then finds his way through various cruel owners before finding peace again.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sure Monk Kidd

I was first given this book to read by my mum, and I absolutely fell in love with this beautiful book.

Based in South Carolina in the 1960s, this story follows Lily, who grew up with a harsh father, and only a ‘stand in’ mother figure, Rosaleen, after her own mother was murdered. When racial tensions grow in South Carolina, Rosaleen is arrested. When Lily breaks Rosaleen out of jail, Lily takes them on a journey to the place that holds the secrets to her mothers past.

Blueback by Tim Winton

I first read this when I was 12, and I still love it now. It is a smaller book, the size of a novella, but it is still an amazing read and incredibly heartwarming.

Abel Jackson lives by the sea in Australia with his mum. They live a simple life, co-existing with the sea that is on their doorstep. Abel’s love of the sea grows when he meets a fish, Blueback, but as life progresses, the greed of humans finds the patch of sea Abel calls home. With the power of love for his home, and for the sea, Abel finds a way to protect the ocean, and his friend Blueback.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This is one of those books that every teen needs to read. And if you’re not a teen, then I think you need to read it as well. Like some of the other books above, I read this book after watching the film – which is also amazing.

The story follows Charlie, a freshman at a new school. His old friends from middle school no longer talk to him. The only person he knows is his big sister, and her boyfriend. Being shy and intelligent beyond his years, he becomes a wallflower. Before long he meets Patrick and Sam, and they bring him into the world of alcohol, drugs, mixtapes, and the Rocky Horror Picture show. As he navigates new friendships and family dramas, Charlie must come back from life’s edge, and experience life as it should be.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I absolutely loved this story! Packed filled with love, laughter, and heart warming moments, this book will have you hooked! It also has a pretty good film adaptation 😉

Also based in the U.S.A during the sixties, this story follows three women. Minny, a black maid who is an amazing cook with a sassy tongue, Aibileen, also a black maid who is now raising her seventeenth white child, and Miss Skeeter, a white girl home from college who wants to know why her maid disappeared but she also wants to hear the stories of the black maids, and what it’s like to work in white households.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Unlike the stories I’ve listed above, this book is not fiction. The heartwarming vibes you’ll get from reading this book are from real stories!

Eat, Pray, Love follows Elizabeth Gilberts travels through Italy, India, and Singapore, where she eats, prays, and finds love, respectively. After a bitter divorce, she finds herself in her 30s and wants more in life. This epic journey will definitely give you the travel bug, but will also fill your heart with warmth.

I hope you liked this reading list! If you choose to read at least one of these books or if you’ve read one of them, let me know what you think! If you have any other suggestions, post them below.

9 Best Historical Fiction Reads

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Have you ever wanted to jump through time and live in a different era? Or have you ever wanted to live in a different time period for just a day? Or perhaps you’re looking for a book full of intrigue, drama, and a bit of history? If you said yes to any of these, then you’re probably like me and a huge Historical Fiction fan. If so, continue on reading! Below is a list of 9 Historical Fiction books I couldn’t put down.


1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My absolute favourite! I absolutely love Scotland and this book is the perfect read for other lovers of Scotland! It is a series and follows Claire Randall, an army nurse, goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank after the Second World War only to go through time to 1743. Caught amidst danger, she must put her faith in the scot James Alexander Malcom Fraser. And the rest is history…


2. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

I love the Tudor and Plantanaget periods and Philippa Gregory would have to be my favourite Historical Fiction Author. I hear a lot of people complaining about her books, but that’s because they don’t see the fiction side of it. I absolutely love The White Queen. This particular book focuses on Elizabeth Woodville, who marries Edward IV, and it is entrancing from the start!


3. Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Now for something slightly different – most books on this list are medieval or modern historical fiction, except this one. This story focuses on Briseis and her experiences in the Trojan War, with the majority of the book focusing on her relationships with Achilles and other women prisoners of the Greeks. If you like a bit of romance and female of empowerment, then this is the book for you!


4. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

Another series, The Last Kingdom focuses on Uhtred of Bebbanburg, an anglo-saxon raised by vikings who eventually becomes a soldier for King Alfred the Great. Torn between the Vikings who raised him, who don’t see him as a proper viking, and his people the Anglo-Saxons, who see him as a pagan viking, Uhtred must find his way back home to Bebbanburg. The books are beautifully written and I was properly hooked from the start. This book is also made into a Netflix series.


5. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Also written by Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl might be one of the most popular or famous historical fiction novels – and for the right reason, this book is incredible. Tudor lovers will love this book! As you may have guessed, this book is about Anne Boleyn, but not just her, the story follows Anne’s big sister, Mary Boleyn, and the story is told through her eyes – hence ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’. It starts with Henrys first interest in the Boleyns, and ends with Anne’s downfall. The History is well executed (excuse the pun), although, much like other historical fiction novels, there is a lot of creative licence. This is one of my favourites mainly because of how wonderful Gregory can spin a story, and she did it well with this one.


6. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Originally published in the early 2000s, this series has become a big hit in the last year. Thanks to Netflix, this series has become a massive hit. The series focuses on the Bridgerton siblings, with each sibling having their own book to star in, and is set in the Regency period. The first book follows Daphne Bridgerton, the fourth sibling and eldest daughter, as she embarks on her first social season. There she meets the charming, yet mysterious and troubled, Duke of Hastings. They strike a deal to ensure she gets more suitors in the social season and he gets left alone by all the pestering mothers. Will their relationship grow into something else?


7. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I would apologise for having so many Philippa Gregory books on this list, however, I am not that sorry. The Lady of the Rivers is another amazing book, this time, Gregory writes a story following Jacquetta of Luxembourg, mother to Elizabeth Woodville (the White Queen). Jacquetta wasn’t just amazing because of her daughter, she was incredible in her own right and Gregory writes her story well. With a mix of romance, magic, drama and intrique, this story should be on everyones Historical Fiction to-read list!


8. The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Based during World War 1, this book follows Emily Bryce as she tries to break away from her comfortable life with her aristocratic parents by becoming a land girl for the war effort. After falling in love with a soldier, and finding a secret garden, Emily finds her place in the world. This book is a beautiful read and it is one of my favourites because it has a perfect mix of drama and romance, all within a historical setting.


9. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent is a very unique story that I absolutely loved. Filled with myth, love and friendship, this is such a powerful story. This book, set in the 1890s, follows Cora Seaborne and her family as she moves to Essex. On her arrival she discovers the myths of the ‘Essex Serpent’. With her scientific intuition, she must find the truth. This epic journey will hook you from the start.

Did you like this list? I hope you found your next Historical Fiction read. I know they are mostly Euro-Focused but I definitely loved them all! If you’ve read them comment below your thoughts! Do you have any historical fiction recommendations?

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