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The Sea Garden

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  985 ratings  ·  206 reviews
On the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, award-winning landscape designer Ellie Brooke has accepted a commission to restore an abandoned garden. The fine house and surrounding estate overlook the glittering sea but the longer Ellie spends there, the more she senses darkness.

The owner's very elderly mother, Madame de Fayols, takes pleasure in
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Orion (first published June 24th 2014)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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The Sea Garden is what I categorise as a past-and-present novel, one with multiple narratives set in different time periods which are meant to intersect in some way. Breaking with recent tradition, Deborah Lawrenson's new book is formatted as three separate novellas, rather than relating the different stories in alternate chapters. The first is about Ellie Brooke, a landscape gardener who travels to the French island of Porquerolles (in the 'present day') to work on a coastal memorial garden for ...more
Jun 19, 2014 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition

Having loved The Lantern, I was excited to try another by Lawrenson.

Sadly, this one just didn't *take* for me, although the writing was good and the plotline is one I generally enjoy. Who knows why these things happen, but they do.

Oh well, I certainly wouldn't discourage others from reading this one.
Colleen Turner
I reviewed this book for

When I read Deborah Lawrensons debut novel The Lantern a few years ago I was swept away with her ability to transport the reader to the vibrant lavender fields of France and to spin a story that not only grabs the reader with its taut mystery and brilliant characters but with its sensory-drenched descriptions. Needless to say I have been excitedly waiting for Ms. Lawrenson to come out with her next book. Im happy to say that The Sea Garden, a
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I simply loved this book. It is divided into three novellas which weave together seamlessly at the end. The writing is simply beautiful in evoking time and place as the storyline travels between past and present.The story itself is compelling as it is weaved around historical fact which gives it weight and poignancy and the thread of perfume which weaves it's way from The Lantern through The Sea Garden is prose to savour.
The novel unfolds gently with a growing sense of mystery which gathers pace
Andrea at Reading Lark
Review Posted on Reading Lark 5/28/14:

I sat down to write this review mere moments after finishing this novel. As I try to gather my thoughts, I am overwhelmed by the awe and beauty of this one. Lawrenson has managed to not only craft a compelling historical fiction tale, but she has also added contemporary layers with a hint of mysticism. I was expecting a historical piece with some romance and intrigue that focused on WWII. I certainly got those
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 24th 2014 by Harper
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In this present hour, there was time for anything to happen, endless time.

The Sea Garden contains three separate novellas that slowly intertwine together. The first novella shares the name of the title and is set in present day. The second and third novellas are all centered around
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was worried that the story would abruptly end without tying up any of the story lines. Lawrenson managed to pull everything together beautifully. I can't say what happened without giving away details, but I honestly didn't figure out certain story threads until close to the big reveal. I loved this book. Her first, The Lantern, ties into this one. I'm definitely going to be keeping up with her releases from now on. I need to buy this one!
Cleopatra  Pullen
I love a good historical novel especially those set in war-time. Deborah Lawrenson has created a twist on the normal dual time narrative, in this book we have three narratives told up to a point with the denouement linking the three together. This is all helped by the way the author has captured both the time periods but also the different places our narrators are located.

Ellies story is the longest, set in the present day she visits the island of Porquerolles where she has a commission to
In establishing her main story as three separate and distinct novellas, Ms. Lawrenson thankfully dispatches with the overused plot device of multiple narrators and multiple time periods. Instead, she creates three full-fleshed separate and distinct stories that are thoroughly enjoyable individually but outstanding when viewing them as a sum of their parts. In so doing, she challenges the reader to remember certain facts and events from one book to the next, but this is never a hardship. The ...more
Tara Chevrestt
An interesting book. Very interesting. And different. It begins in modern times, with this garden designer traveling to an island off the coast of France to restore a memorial garden. But things go wrong on the boat there, immediately giving the story a sinister feel and it certainly sucked me in and grabbed my attention. A man just...walks...overboard.

Yes, you read that right.

And then it gets better with things missing and a very strange old lady...and something about this old lady tells me
Katie/Doing Dewey
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since this story is not just a dual narrative but a triple narrative, for the full explanation youll want to visit goodreads. The first storyline follows a British garden designer hoping a commission on a beautiful island will be her chance to break into the international scene. However, once she realizes that her clients are eccentric and possibly malicious, shes not sure the job is worth the risk. The second story is that of a young blind woman living in Nazi-occupied France with a difficult ...more
Excerpt from my review:

It seems a bit silly to start my book review with the fact that I could just be happy sitting and staring at the cover of The Sea Garden. The artwork is gorgeous--as it should be to capture the mood and beauty of Deborah Lawrenson's words. I had the pleasure of reviewing Lawrenson's novel The Lantern a couple of years ago and described it as "lush" and "a book for the senses." The Sea Garden is no different. The author's words paint pictures in the mind--you see the
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sea Garden is a book made of three smaller, interconnected books. The first of these books takes place in 2013 and is about Ellie Brooke, a landscape designer who has been hired to restore a garden on an island off the coast of France. The garden's owner is an elderly woman that gives Ellie the heebie jeebies and Ellie isn't sure she wants to have anything to do with the woman or the garden. This part of the book was my least favorite. It was too detailed in speaking of the gardens, which ...more
This book opens engagingly with Ellie, a prize-winning designer of gardens. Called to an island off Southern France, Ellie comes to restore an isolated garden that seems to hide darker mysteries within. In the second section, blind Marthe has found her calling as an apprentice perfumier. This strong young woman becomes involved in Frances Resistance during WWII. And then the third part of the novel opens with Iris, a British spy during WWII, also working to aid the French Resistance. The second ...more
Minty McBunny
This was really disappointing. The first story was straight up dreadful, the supernatural elements were ridiculous and every character was almost cartoon-like in their role. I very nearly gave up.

The second book was much better & I found it a quite interesting look at the Resistance movement in the south of France. The characters were much more realistic and finely drawn, this section gave me hope that it all might have been worth my while in the end.

The third book started strong, but
Almost gave this one 4 stars for the way all three novellas wrapped together by the book's end, but might have to settle for 3 1/2.

It took me a while to get into each story, but once I did, I was swept up. I found the WWII/Resistance bits to be very interesting. I had read The Lantern prior to reading this book, and so Marthe was a familiar character. It was nice to read about her life again and her amazing, amazing talents.

If you find yourself struggling to get through this book, just keep
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this, despite being perplexed at times. Here is a link to my review:
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
Present day. On a lush Mediterranean island off the French coast, Ellie has accepted a commission to restore an abandoned garden. It seems idyllic, but the longer Ellie spends at the house and garden, the more she senses darkness, and a lingering evil that seems to haunt her.

Second World War. Two very different women have their lives irrevocably changed: Iris, a junior intelligence officer in London and Marthe, a blind girl who works in the lavender fields of Provence and is slowly drawn into
Carolyn Hill
I found this very hard to rate, as it is really three stories in one book, and I enjoyed some parts more than others. Lawrenson is wonderful at scene setting, engaging the senses, and historical details. The three novellas don't seem to relate except for some overlap about the French Resistance in World War II, but they are tied together by a common history that we don't discover until very late in the last story. Book One is contemporary, set in 2013, where Ellie, a British garden designer, ...more
Lucy Perry
A couple of years ago I took a gamble on Lawrensons last book The Lantern. It was getting great views but I was put off by the blurb and the cover Im not a lover of chick lit and it sounded pretty chicky to me. But I loved it! So when I was able to read a pre-publication review copy of The Sea Garden I jumped at the chance.

Deborah Lawrenson has an indescribable way of writing beautifully immersive fiction without being over descriptive or literary. Both this and The Lantern were incredibly
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Three women with three very different stories all connected by one mystery.

Ellie Brooke has been hired to restore a memorial garden on the island of Porquerolles. Her arrival is marred by a shocking tragedy but the job is inspiring. Unfortunately things turn out to be quite different than they seem and the island is both steeped in history and haunted by a dark past.

For Marthe, being taken on at the Distillerie Musset is a dream come true. But WWII brings danger to Provence and Nazi occupation
Originally posted on The Book Musings

I love dual narrative stories, but The Sea Garden gives you something unique, at least for me. Its a triple narrative, but it doesnt alternate between the three narratives. Instead, she gives us three novellas in one book that are interconnected in some way: The Sea Garden, The Lavender Field and A Shadow Life.

The Sea Garden tells the story of Ellie Brooke, a landscape/garden designer who travels to an island called Porquerolles to restore and re-design a
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is better seen as three parts of the same story told from different angles rather than standalone novellas. Of the three, only the second is truly self-contained; it provides useful information that informs the other two but doesn't need them to tell its story. Please keep that in mind as you read; I was very frustrated by the ending of the first book but satisfied by the end.

Poor Ellie Brooke perhaps wasn't surprised to feel herself pulled into a world haunted by death from the very first
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Sea Garden encompasses three stories linked by a single mystery in this compelling novel by Deborah Lawrenson that describes love and loss in the tumult of war. The first story is The Sea Garden set in the Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast. Ellie Brooks, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. On the boat, the inciting force takes place when a man standing close to Ellie suddenly jumps overboard to his death. She is ...more
I wish I had read The Lantern first, even though I don't think this book was a sequel. It has one of the characters in it. Anyway, I really liked The Sea Garden, a very indept and spellbinding novel of three stories, linked in a mystery to love and loss in WWII. It's not a quick read, but very engrossing and beautifully written. Love the cover also.

From Amazon:
Romance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellasrich in drama and steeped in
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sea Garden
Deborah Lawrenson

My " in a nutshell" summary...

This is a three novella book...beginning in Provence...with all stories linking. It takes place in the present day as well as during WWII. It has a sense of mystery and sadness trickling through it.

My thoughts after reading this book...

I don't usually enjoy anything that says...short stories or novellas...but this did not have the feel of a book of short really did read like a novel.

The first novella was about Ellie...a
Overall, my reaction was "meh." I do feel rather like a troglodyte in saying this, since so many readers enjoyed this.

The structure of this book is 3 novellas that are tied together to make one novel. Technically this is a risky approach, especially with the shifts in tone, time period, and significant characters. So of necessity the overall plot in the book has a lot of detours and dead ends, which can be pleasurable or tedious.

Part of my reaction is a matter of my taste, rather than the
Dec 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a three story novel, the first: The Sea Garden that takes place on the Mediterranean island of Porquerolles. Ellie Brooke has been requested to use her talent as an award winning British landscape designer. The owner of the garden, an elderly woman seems to be undermining Ellie's efforts. There are mysterious happenings and the ending is unusual.
The second: A young blind girl works at a perfume factory in Nazi controlled Provence. Strange things happen around her and she realizes that
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: it-s-like-travel
Until the last couple of chapters I wasn't sure what to think about this book. I really enjoyed The Lantern, so I was excited to read The Sea Garden. The second short story's main character is also in The Lantern - and I think if I hadn't read it, I wouldn't have enjoyed the story in the same way. The first story went fairly quickly and so did the second, however; the third was a bit longer - however, I kept feeling like I was reading three unrelated stories. The end did pull things together, ...more
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After a childhood of constant moves around the world - my family lived at various times in Kuwait, China, Belgium, Luxembourg and Singapore - I read English at Trinity College, Cambridge. I trained as a journalist on a weekly South London newspaper, then worked on several national newspapers and magazines.

My first novel Hot Gossip (1994) was a satire based on my experiences working on Nigel

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“At the door to the shop, a bell tinkled, and moments later they seemed to enter the very flowering of lavender.
The scent was all around them; it curled and diffused in the air with a sweet warmth and subtlety, then burst with a peppery, musky intensity. The blind girls moved into another room. There they arranged themselves expectantly around a long wooden table, Mme Musset welcomed them, and a cork was pulled with a squeaky pop.
"This is pure essence of lavender, grown on the Valensole plateau," said Madame. "It is in a glass bottle I am sending around to the right for you all to smell. Be patient, and you will get your turn."
Other scents followed: rose and mimosa and oil of almond. Now that they felt more relaxed, some of the other girls started being silly, pretending to sniff too hard and claiming the liquid leapt up at them. Marthe remained silent and composed, concentrating hard. Then came the various blends: the lavender and rosemary antiseptic, the orange and clove scent for the house in winter, the liqueur with the tang of juniper that made Marthe unexpectedly homesick for her family's farming hamlet over the hills to the west, where as a child she had been able to see brightness and colors and precise shapes of faces and hills and fruits and flowers.”
“Blonde hair and blue eyes," she repeated. "The lavender fairy."
"Now, hang on a minute!"
"Just like the lavender fairy has. There's an old story about the beautiful fairy called Lavandula who was born in the wild lavender of the Lure mountain. She grew up and began to wander further from the mountain, looking for somewhere special to make her home. One day she came across the stony, uncultivated landscapes of Haute Provence, and the pitiful sight made her so sad she cried hot tears- hot mauve tears that fell into the ground and stained it. And that is where, ever afterwards, the lavender of her birthplace began to grow.”
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