19 August 2013

The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley, Book review

Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (June 11, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1476703558


An aristocratic French family, a legendary château, and buried secrets with the power to destroy two generations torn between duty and desire. 

La Côte d’Azur, 1998: In the sun-dappled south of France, Emilie de la Martinières, the last of her gilded line, inherits her childhood home, a magnificent château and vineyard. With the property comes a mountain of debt—and almost as many questions . . .

Paris, 1944: A bright, young British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent undercover to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from her contacts in the Resistance, she soon stumbles into the heart of a prominent family who regularly entertain elite members of the German military even as they plot to liberate France. But in a city rife with collaborators and rebels, 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 château itself may provide the clues that unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future. Here is a dazzling novel of intrigue and passion from one of the world’s most beloved storytellers.

Note to readers: 
In the UK, this book is published under the title 'The Light Behind the Window'.

Here are my thoughts:

My first novel by Irish born author Lucinda Riley, and I enjoyed the plot albeit I am still puzzling a couple of facts...
I'll begin by saying I felt the cover(s) and the title(s) (both in the UK and abroad) did not do justice to the plot. The US cover however reflected the beautiful light so particular to the South of France when alighting on a building...

Alternating her narrative betwixt two distinct time frames, WW2 and the late 1990's, author Lucinda Riley endeavoured to capture the essence of two beautiful areas: la Cote d'Azur and the stark beauty of the Yorkshire moors whilst alluding to deep secrets long forgotten in 'The Lavender Garden'.

Readers will immerse themselves in the menacing atmosphere of Nazi occupied France as Constance Carruthers, a Special Operations Executive or SOE arrives in 1944 Paris. When she fails to meet her contact, she blunders into the elegant world of a man known to the Resistance as Hero who appears to entertain in his home both Vichy's and Nazi's elite members. Constance realizes she alone must decide whom to trust as she is certain to face a lengthy stay in the Parisian capital when her mission is suddenly cancelled by London. Any attempt to escape would certainly endanger her host and his family.

Alternately we move on to the 1990's and meet a bewildered Emilie de la Martinieres who recently inherited her family's castle in the south of France. Feeling unloved by her recently deceased mother who favoured the glittery world of gay Paris, Emilie made a new life for herself in Paris, having earned a degree in Veterinarian sciences. She remembers fondly a kind older father who would emerge from his extensive collection of books in their chateau in Gassin only to escape swiftly back to his sanctuary. 

Now alone, she faces the enormity of the task ahead of her as her inheritance comes with much debts and she must decide where her future, the castle's and the vineyards attached lays. 
Meeting almost by providence a young British art broker willing to see the real Emilie, insecure and much in need of some TLC above all, the young woman is swept in a whirlwind romance and soon finds herself in Blackmoor Hall, County of Yorkshire with her new husband.
However Blackmoor Hall has a few secrets and Emilie comes to realize there is a connection betwixt her family home and the old Hall in Yorkshire. 

Lucinda Riley's novel has a little of everything for her readers enjoyment including some poems. For my part I found it immeasurably agreeable that she chose her protagonists not to be Barbie and Ken look alike! In fact she does a credible job of showcasing people who are not perfect but given a chance, might just be part of the future! 
I mentioned a couple of puzzling items...Oh well!
As to the end, it was most certainly not a disappointment!

I'll happily give it 4 stars!

Note to readers: This review comes with a warning due to adult thematic contents and therefore should be read only by a mature audience.

About the Author:

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and wrote her first book aged 24. Her novel 'The Orchid House' (also called 'Hothouse Flower') was selected for the UK's Richard and Judy Bookclub in 2011 and went on to sell over 2 million copies worldwide.

Her second novel, 'Girl on the Cliff' made its debut on the New York Times Bestseller list in its first week and her latest book, 'The Lavender Garden' (also called 'The Light Behind the Window') topped the German bestseller list for eight weeks.

'The Midnight Rose' is to be published in most markets of the world in early 2014. Lucinda's books are translated into 22 languages and published in 36 countries. She shares her time betwixt the North Norfolk coast in England and the South of France.

Note to Readers: This review was not requested and therefore reflects ONLY my opinion!


  1. I need to put this one on my book list! I love everything about lavender! Sweet hugs!

    1. Ahem Diane...You might take another look at what I mention in regard to the title...Just so you know...

  2. It pretty much sounds like it has everything secrets from the past, history and drama a pretty good read.

    1. That it is Merle albeit please read the notice regarding Adult thematic contents (totally uneccessary in my opinion but that's me). I hope you will give it a chance, it is entertaining and the author's other titles are worth checking out!

  3. I do so like the setting of this story. I hope I get to it soon.

    1. Beautiful settings indeed Mystica and I always enjoy a WW2 story!

  4. Glad to see you enjoyed it. I have it set aside to read soon, along with The Girl on the Cliff.

    1. As soon as I locate a copy of 'The Girl On The Cliff', I will try it! Thanks Anna!


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