The Heart of the Garden by Victoria Connelly
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union
Author: Victoria Connelly
Release Date: February 22, 2018
Okay, first things first. Anne Marie's husband and step-daughters in The Heart of the Garden were complete and utter jerks. I was totally rooting for her to tell them where they could go. Those characters will have you cheering her on as she goes through a kind of later-in-life coming of age.
The Heart of the Garden isn't all Anne Marie's story. Things go like this. Fifty-something Emilia Morton has been the reclusive owner of Morton Hall for decades. Few have ever seen her. Townspeople really only know that she's never really been a part of the town and that her estate's gardens are gorgeous but in need of restoration.
When Emilia dies, a small group of locals is summoned to her lawyer's office. She's left it to them to work together and restore the gardens. If they can do so in a year, the manor home and all of its priceless museum-quality art will become the property of the entire village.
For Anne Marie, the gardens have been her sanctuary against a husband and step-daughters who treat her like a servant. Cape's been the caretaker of the gardens for a short while now, and he's always wanted to completely turn it around. Others in the group all bring their own strengths and weaknesses. As they work together, they realize the gardens have the power to turn their lives around.
Though The Heart of the Garden is set in the present time, there's a bit of a Gothic feel. The manor is very dark and imposing. It's hiding secrets that get revealed along the way. Some never got fully unraveled though and that was the one thing that keeps me from giving higher praise to this book than necessary. I guess you simply have to draw your own conclusions.