Received by Emma Crowley
All Marnie wants is somewhere to call home. Mourning lost years spent in a marriage that has finally come to an end, she needs a fresh start and time to heal. Things she hopes to find in the rural west Lancashire village her mother always told her about.
With nothing but her two green thumbs, Marnie takes a job as a gardener, which comes with a little cottage to make her own. The garden is beautiful - filled with roses, lavender and honeysuckle - and only a little rough around the edges. Which is more than can be said for her next-door neighbour, Ned Mars.
Marnie remembers Ned from her college days but he's far from the untroubled man she once knew. A recent relationship has left him with a heart as bruised as her own.
Can a summer spent gardening help them recapture the forgotten dreams they've let get away?
Many thanks to Random House UK via NetGalley for my copy of The Garden of Forgotten Wishes to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.
The Garden of Forgotten Wishes by Trisha Ashley is a gorgeous, warm hug of a read that has the most relaxing pace to it and just gives off these nice soothing vibes to it. It sounds strange to describe a book like that but that’s the way the book made me feel. There wasn’t any great mystery to it, or sense of urgency that the story needed to be rushed, instead it was a lovely, calming read perfect to take your mind off all the goings on in the world,.. well at least for a few hours or so. The storyline is very easy to follow and it’s full of wonderful descriptions of the village of Jericho’s End and of the gardens the main character Marnie sets about restoring alongside Ned.
There were appearances by numerous characters that have previously featured in books by Trisha. Some I remembered and others I had not come across before. I still have her Christmas book from last year, The Christmas Invitation, waiting to be read on my Kindle and some of those characters pop up here so it’s definitely made me want to move said book to the top of my Christmas reading this year. I love spotting old familiar faces and they are weaved effortlessly into this new story.
As per the title, this story centres around a garden at Old Grace Hall in the village. I know next to nothing about gardening, flowers, herbs etc.The extent of my gardening skills is to mow the grass once a week so truthfully I thought I might find the subject matter a bit boring but this wasn’t the case at all. In fact, it was the total opposite as I found the descriptions of the work being done, the various flowers and the whole history behind the gardens simply fascinating. It’s the sign of a good author that they can make a topic you are not familiar or really have no interest in become intriguing and having you eager to learn more. Here Trisha Ashley deftly weaves the story of the restoration of the Victorian garden alongside that of Marnie, newly arrived to the village and seeking some solace but at the same time she has a connection to Jericho’s End that she doesn’t want certain people to find out about.
Marnie has been living in France with her adopted family the Ellwoods, who took her in when her mother died, ever since her life fell apart when her controlling ex husband Mike dealt her one final blow. One that she could no longer withstand and which left her professional reputation in shatters. She has kept herself busy moving around various chateaux’s in France working in gardens but now that she has heard that Mike has remarried she feels the final shackle of the past has finally fallen away and that perhaps she is safe to return to England. She sees a job advertised in Jericho’s End which is where her mother came from and where she told her daughter never to return to but Marnie wants a new start and the job opportunity sounds promising.
Mike seemed to be an awful character who constantly undermined Marnie at every available opportunity. Her self-confidence was in pieces and he had had her under his control so her independence had gone out the window. The final straw was when he made her employers believe bad things about her and sent in a resignation letter which he himself had written. No doubt about it Marnie arrives in Jericho’s End with scars but she feels its safer now to return. Will this new job allow some light and happiness back into her life?
Trisha Ashley’s books always have such a colourful, vibrant and eccentric cast of characters that add that little bit of something special to her stories. Lavendar Cottage is host to Elfida, who runs the café Ice Cream and Angels, and her sister Myfy, who is an artist, and whose husband lives close by. The pair are quite quirky and whimsical and it is they who have asked Marnie to tame their garden but she will also work for their nephew Ned who is attempting to restore the gardens of Grace Hall which he has inherited from an Uncle. It soon transpires that Ned was at the same college that Marnie had attended and they actually knew each other but as with Marnie, Ned has been publicly bruised and his days of TV presenting gardening shows are gone but maybe because he would prefer it that way?
Instantly you feel a connection between the pair but given their own individual histories they don’t really want to act on it. Instead they skate around each other for a lot of the book but working on restoring the long lost apothecary garden and all the different planned areas that Ned has envisaged slowly does start to bring them together. Yes, you can see the ending coming a mile off and it is slightly predictable but who really cares when the story is so pleasant and inviting. You are just happy to follow Marnie’s journey as it’s not too taxing and there is something rather special and captivating about it.
I loved how everyone welcomes and embraces Marnie into the fold. She really wanted a clean slate and I think the others could sense that she needed time to heal and the garden would allow her to do this. I loved how full of love she was for gardening and the restoration. In that sense she shared a common bond with Ned and she really came on board with him in a bid to get the gardens open to the viewing public. It was a labour of love that radiated from the pages and perhaps this labour of love would develop into something more? James and Gertrude who work in the gardens were brilliant characters too offering humour and laughs when needed. The only thing I will say is that the slight ‘magic’ aspect in relation to the legend of the waterfalls that Marnie must tend to the surrounding area each day. Well that just seemed a bit too far fetched for me and the book would have been fine without its inclusion but that’s just my own personal preference.
I really did enjoy the time I spent reading The Garden of Forgotten Wishes. There was just enough meat in the story, so to speak, with the family aspect of the plot in relation to Marnie and this was balanced nicely with some friendship and love all whilst the garden projects were ongoing. As the blurb does say the garden is a way of helping them to heal and recapture the forgotten dreams they’ve let get away and shows it’s never too late to explore second chances. It’s certainly a delightful read that will please many readers.