Review: A Secret Garden – Katie Fforde

ffordeTitle: A Secret Garden
Author: Katie Fforde
Publisher: Century
Publication date: 23 February 2017
Genre: Women’s fiction / Romance
Pages: 384

A Secret Garden tells the story of Lorna, a talented gardener, and Philly, a plantswoman, who both work in the grounds of a beautiful manor house in the Cotswolds. Described as ‘unlucky in love’, we see them meet Jack and Lucien and search for their happy ending.

This was my first Katie Fforde novel and I found it refreshing to read about older characters, rather than women in their 20s and early 30s, as is the norm in the women’s fiction I usually pick up. I particularly loved the characters of Lady Anthea and Seamus, Philly’s cake-baking, car-fixing Irish grandfather.

Sadly though, I found it difficult to get into the relationships in the book. Particularly in the first few chapters, I felt like I was being told that the characters were falling for each other, but wasn’t being shown or made to feel that they were. I also struggled to relate to the characters’ feelings. From the claustrophobia scene – supposedly one of the worst experiences of Lorna’s life – during which I had no sense of panic or fear, through to Lorna and Philly’s supposed cluelessness about the men’s advances, the characters’ reactions and feelings weren’t nearly as believable as they could have been.

The ending was predictable and tied up quite neatly, but I was pleased that it found a good balance between a happy ending and keeping just a bit of intrigue by leaving one question unresolved.

Unfortunately, A Secret Garden hasn’t convinced me to pick up more of Katie Fforde’s novels, but it was a fun, easy read.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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