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The Forever Garden by Rosanna Ley : a review

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts about The Forever Garden by Rosanna Ley.

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book cover for The Forever Garden by Rosanna Ley.  Photo shows paths and gardens leading to a house

The Forever Garden by Rosanna Ley

  • Category : Contemporary Fiction
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Quercus (31 Aug. 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 496 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1529413605
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1529413601
  • Amazon | Waterstones | Goodreads

The Forever Garden Summary

Amid the sun-soaked hills of southern Italy lies the Romano family olive grove, where Lara lives with her daughter Rose and her granddaughter Bea.

Lara has spent a lifetime trying to forget the traumatic events that led to her desperate escape from Dorset seventy years ago. But when she sees Bea – a passionate horticulturalist most at home in nature – being swept off her feet by Matteo, a handsome and charismatic restaurateur, Lara fears her granddaughter is in danger of making the same mistake as Lara did all those years ago.

Remembering a promise she once made, Lara asks Bea to travel to Dorset to restore her family’s long-lost garden. Bea is torn. She would love to find out more about the mystery of her beloved grandmother’s past. But if she leaves Italy, will Matteo wait for her? And when she arrives at the house in Dorset – what will she find?

Meanwhile back in Italy, an old flame from Rose’s past reappears, threatening to expose a secret that could tear the heart out of the Romano family for good.

The Forever Garden Review

Rosanna Ley is one of those authors where you know you can settle into the story from the beginning, knowing you’ll experience the most amazing settings and get drawn into the character’s emotions.  There’s nothing quite like the anticipation!  And The Forever Garden lived up to my expectations.  It’s one of my favourites from this author.

Narrations from Lara in 2018 hint at the mystery of what happened in Bridport in 1945 and why she fled to Puglia but it’s not until we step back in time with her throughout the book that those events become clear.  Gritty and dark, knowing Lara had a settled life in Italy took the edges off a bit for me but it was still like a punch to the gut.  Leaving behind everything and starting again was the only option …

I felt such at peace just reading how Bea works and her connection to the energy a garden can create.  The different ‘rooms’ fascinated me and I just had to look up the Arts and Crafts houses and gardens (delighted to find a directory of sorts on Great British Gardens!).  In Bea’s personal life, I did wonder if she was going to make a mistake being blinded by all that Matteo represented.  There were a few warning signals.  Her time in Dorset is much more than bringing the garden back to life. 

And Rose.  I thought she was so brave facing up to her past.  Imagine carrying that burden around for all those years!    

The pace of the story is perfect.  The reveals came at just the right time for me (there were a couple of surprises there). I identified with each of our three women and enjoyed how the gardens and the relationships tie the generations together.

Each of our three leads experience abuse of power to differing degrees and despite the years between, it’s the same emotions and the same fear and loss of self-belief and self-worth.  The one thing that really matters is the people around you … when you can’t save yourself, you need others who care about you who will cross barriers to make sure you’re safe or to nudge you in the right direction.  The acceptance of family members is priceless.

The Forever Garden is gritty and painful, tackling issues with sensitivity and realism.  There’s also love and light.  This is a story that will stay in my heart for a long time.   

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About the Author

Rosanna Ley has had ten novels published by Quercus Books. She has worked as a creative writing tutor for many years and has written articles and stories for a number of national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.

Visit Rosanna: @RosannaLey / http://www.rosannaley.com

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