In the first novella, The Sea Garden, on the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden’s owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian.
The second novella, The Lavender Field begins near the end of World War II, when Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.
Finally, in A Shadow Life, Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be? Ingeniously interconnected, this spellbinding triptych weaves three parallel narratives into one unique tale of love, mystery, and murder.
The Sea Garden is a vivid and absorbing chronicle of love and loss in the fog of war—and a penetrating and perceptive examination of the impulses and circumstances that shape our lives.
The Sea Garden ($26.99 from HarperCollins) is available at Lake Forest Book Store, 847-234-4420.
— Ann Marie Scheidler