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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

The Victory Garden
by Rhys Bowen
Book Beginnings



Cover Image Of The Book 'The Victory Garden ' By Author Rhys Bowen



MAY 14, 1918

To Miss Clarissa Hamilton, Field Hospital 17, British Forces, France

“My dear Clarissa,

Thank you very much for your long letter. I am in awe of the matter-of-fact way you recount such dangers and horrors. Who would have thought that you, who shrieked at seeing a mouse in our dorm room, would have turned out to be so fearless?

And you have every right to scold me. I know I promised to write to you regularly, and I have failed miserably in that task. It is not that I am lazy – nor have I forgotten you, you can be sure of that. You are never out of my thoughts and prayers. It’s just that I find my own life here in the countryside so sadly lacking compared to the excitement and danger that you face daily.  In truth, I have nothing to write about, and I am ashamed to admit it. While you are there amongst the trenches in France, tending to the wounded, being shelled by the enemy, here I am, safe and secure in my English country village, doing nothing more for the war effort than taking some of  Mummy’s scones and rock cakes to the wounded soldiers in the convalescent home and trying to convince myself that the presence of a young lady will cheer them up …”




Cover Image Of The Book 'The Victory Garden ' By Author Rhys BowenFrom the bestselling author of The Tuscan Child comes a beautiful and heart-rending novel of a woman’s love and sacrifice during the First World War.

As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage.

When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow.

As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster, but may open a path to her destiny.




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Would the first few lines of your book make you want to read on?

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Visit your host, Gilion @ ‘Rose City Reader

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Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • I think this one sounds interesting. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about WWI in some of my recent reading and I think this would be a nice addition. Perhaps I can get to it at some point, though I truly need to be reading from my TBR pile rather than adding to it! I think you can relate!!

    Hope you’re managing some time to read despite your soggy situation at the charity shop!

    • I did take a look at my current ‘Want To Read’ shelf at Goodreads and had to take a sharp intake of breath at the sheer size of it. I had a good talk with mysef and came to the conclusion that after all, it is just a wish list and as with all lists we make in life, we never actually get to the bottom of them, because we keep adding new items. Result, I am going to keep adding to the list as my own personal reminder of some of the great titles I have come across and if I get to read a few of them eventually, then so much the better!

      ‘The Victory Garden’ is shaping up into a good storyline and along with fellow commenter Anne, I am waiting to see if Emily’s future venture into herbal remedies, crosses paths with the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, which started just after the end of WWI – could be interesting!

      The rain continues to come down, to one degree or another. No sooner do we manage to dry out ceiling and shelves to begin trading again, then down comes another deluge and we are back to square one! All the while, the charity continues to be at loggerheads with the landlord over repairs!

      Thanks for asking and for your continued support during my sporadic posting, I really appreciate it 🙂

    • Although I knew a little about the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, my knowledge of the true facts was very sketchy. Your comment prompted me to check into the episode more deeply, which I have spent the last half hour or so doing and would like to think that I have learned some interesting facts and information in that time – thanks for that!

      I am so far only a relatively a short way into the book and the premise doesn’t really give anything away. However it seems to me that the first part of the story is set mid war, so about 1916. I’m not sure that, if when Emily begins her herb journal, any of her remedies are used to treat influenza victims as late as 1918, so I’ll try and let you know that information when I get to any references to it.

      Thanks for stopping by, your comments are always appreciated 🙂

  • Hi Yvonne, I started reading this book yesterday and am enjoying getting to know the characters – at the same time knowing there’s probably great sadness in their future. It will be interesting to see where the author takes her characters.

    • I read so slowly these days, that you are sure to be finished with this book long before me, so I shall look forward to reading your review.

      I have started reading the book myself, bumping it right to the top of my TBR list, due to promotion committments I have made to the publicist.

      So far, taking into account I am only a short way in, I am loving the way the story line is building and the characters are taking on their individual personalities – it is already ticking all the boxes and I like the author’s style of writing and narrative!

      Thanks for visiting this week and I hope that you continue to enjoy the book 🙂

  • Oooooh…. I’m doing the World at War challenge next year and this would be ‘perfect’. I love the sound of it. Going to pop over to Goodreads and add it to the shelf I’ve created for the challenge. Thanks, Yvonne!

    Have a nice weeeknd.

    • Thanks for adding ‘The Victory Garden’ to your World at War challenge list and I hope that you get the time to read it.

      The new shelf is looking good so far and has inspired me with a couple of the featured titles. I really want to read John Buchan’s work. I have of course, watched the film of ‘The 39 Steps’ but have yet to read the book and I like the sound of the Richard Hannay character.

      Also, several people have recommended the writing of Ben Elton and ‘The First Casualty’ sounds like quite an emotional story.

      Good Luck and Happy Reading with the challenge 🙂

      • Oh yes, I definitely plan to read The Victory Garden for the challenge. And thanks for checking out my new shelf. (I do love creating new shelves on Goodreads.) ITV did a series of Hannay stories starring Robert Powell, I think it was in the early 90s. That led me to read a few of the books which I can remember loving. Greenmantle I don’t think I read so that will do nicely for the challenge with the added bonus that it is free for Kindle readers.

        I was probably one of the people recommending The First Casualty as it’s one of my favourite WW1 books.

        I hope you have a good week.

        • I don’t remember that ‘Hannay’ series at all, although I feel certain I would have watched it, I’m off to check it out now!

          I only have the one ‘favourites’ shelf on Goodreads, although I aim to improve my visibility both on that site and over at NetGalley, especially now that I won’t get to post any further reviews on Amazon, as they now only allow reviews if you can say that you bought the book from them!

          That will also give me the opportunity to write slightly shorter reviews and leave the blog for more promotional posts.

          Happy Reading 🙂

    • I have given up discussing or worrying about my TBR list, whch has become a veritable novel in its own right! – If I see a book I like the sound of, it gets added and if I ever get around to reading it, then that’s an added bonus!

      This extract is only one small portion of the letter, as it is interspersed with the author’s wandering thoughts and observations, which would have made it a little too lengthy to share for this meme. However, the entire letter is actually quite powerful and makes a page-turning start to the book!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and enjoy your weekend 🙂

    • I guess that with this year being the end of World War I centenary, then the door has been wide open for authors who wanted to share their stories from the era.

      The really frightening thing is, that it isn’t until you start reading books from the early to mid 1900s that you realise just how many facets of everyday life have changed in such a short space of time! … And that is coming from someone who has only just turned 60, I can’t begin to comprehend what my 87 year old mother-in-law thinks of it all!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment 🙂

    • This one ticks all the boxes for what you would expect from a war time novel – drama, suspense, hardship and of course, a little romance – The cover art sets the package off nicely, so what’s not to enjoy!

      Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading 🙂

  • I love Rhys Bowen. I have this on my review list and really looking forward to getting to it. I like books about books and the teasers are good. Susan is wrapping up the month with a nonfiction book at Girl Who Reads

    • I have a couple of Rhys’s stand alone stories in my TBR pile waiting to be read, however ‘The Victory Garden’ needed to jump the queue on the others and so far I am really engaged with both the story and characters, so all is good!

      Thanks for visiting this week and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

Written by Yvonne