“The Walled Garden” by Sarah Hardy – Book Review

Oakbourne Hall – a once grand Suffolk Manor House. Oakbourne is now dilapidated and needs much in the way of restoration after being requisitioned by Canadian soldiers for the last five years of WWII. There is no money for repairs, no money at all in fact. The once large indoor and outdoor staff are gone. Now there is only one cook/housekeeper who cannot keep up and has little to work with.

Lady Alice Rayne – lives at Oakbourne Hall with her husband Stephen. It is 1946 and Stephen has just returned from the war physically intact – however he bears invisible scars. He is a very changed man. Alice seeks solace in the gardens of Oakbourne and tries her best to keep it going, a task that twenty gardeners used to do. Her once loving husband is distant, taciturn, and cold. She is desperately lonely and she admits…. fearful of her husband. She is trying valiantly to make ends meet by selling off the remaining valuable artifacts in the Hall. Dishes, works of art, furniture… anything that will bring in some much needed funds.

“Nature can cure, she reminded herself, glorious scenery does heal.”

Sir Stephen Rayne – a brilliant linguist, a poet, a baronet, a gentleman. Now after WWII he despises himself and the world that made him to the horrendous things he had to do. He has little hope for the future.

“History just repeats itself because people always find reasons to hate one another.”

Jane Downes – the wife of the local doctor, she is the mother of three children. A talented nurse, during the war she filled in for her husband when someone needed medical assistance. Now her husband has returned – embittered, bad-tempered, argumentative, and with an artificial leg. He seems to reserve all of his good-nature for his patients, and none for Jane and his children.

Jonathan Downes – once a brilliant surgeon, experienced untold personal traumas in the war. Home again now, he feels he cannot share the horrors he experienced. Now he has a tremble that precludes him from doing surgery. Also, his stump’s severed nerve endings give him constant pain.

George Ivens – a young vicar who has just moved to the community. He spent the war years in the East End of London and lived through the Blitz. He is a very unhealthy man who experienced rheumatic fever as a teenager and now has heart problems as a result. George has a wonderful singing voice which brings him to the attention of Alice Rayne.

“When what little time there is could be snatched from you so cruelly
there seemed no time at all.”

With several different narrators, this debut novel was skilfully written. It spoke to the devastation of WWII and how it affected those both at home and at war.

Set in Suffolk in 1946, it showed an England in recovery. Rationing was still in effect. Rebuilding, renewal and social reform were all taking place with many members of each community forever lost.

Each character in this book had secrets. Secrets that were so weighty, so significant, that they felt they could not share them.

The novel spoke to the horrors of war, man’s inhumanity to man, the deprivations, the moral dilemmas, the bloodshed, the suffering. Also, it spoke to man’s capabilities. Of endurance, of ingenuity, bravery, charity, and kindness.

The main theme of the book was hope. Those with hope, those who dare not hope and those who were completely without hope. The walled garden symbolized rebirth, renewal, and yes… HOPE.

I believe that fans of such authors as Kate Morton, Eve Chase, or Harriet Evans will adore this debut historical novel as much as I did.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel via Anne Cater and Random Things Tours  from the publisher: Bonnier Books UK/Zaffre Books
ISBN:9781838779252 — Pbk ISBN: 9781838779269 — 400 pages

Sarah Hardy has lived for the last 10 years on the Suffolk coast which is where her debut novel is set.
Before that she lived in London, Dublin and the Hebrides.
She has worked on national magazines and newspapers.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, debut novels, Historical fiction, Random Things Tours (Anne Cater), war stories, Women's fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “The Walled Garden” by Sarah Hardy – Book Review

  1. Carla says:

    Another book I had not heard of, but it definitely sounds like one I enjoy. I do like reading books about what happens after the war and how those injured and left behind change and survive. Wonderful review, Lynne.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Fictionophile’s MARCH 2023 Reading Wrap-Up #bookblogger #MonthlyWrapUp | Fictionophile

  3. this was already on my radar but now I think that I will buy it. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds really good Lynne glad you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. annecater says:

    Thanks for the blog tour support x

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s