‘THE VICTORY GARDEN‘ by RHYS BOWEN
BOOK BEGINNINGS / FIRST LINES
THE LARCHES, NEAR SHIPHAY, TORQUAY, DEVONSHIRE
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 …”
‘THE VICTORY GARDEN‘ – The Premise
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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