The Winter Garden by Nicola Cornick is a marvellous dual timeline novel that had me enthralled from the start.
The book is set in present day and 1598 in the lead up to the Gunpowder Plot. Chapters alternate, as do the voices, with the action being seen through the eyes of the leading ladies – in the third person in present day and in the first person in 1598.
Living in a barn called Gunpowder Barn in the grounds of the old Catesby cottage provides a link to the past. It is all very atmospheric as there seems to be a thin veil between the two time periods.
We witness that sadness in the present attracts sadness in the past. A love will not rest until the past has surrendered its secrets.
A mother’s love is strong. We witness several instances. Life in the sixteenth century was precarious, not all children born, survived. A veil of grief is palpable.
Likewise, there is a loss in present day – an actual loss where grief is ever-present, and the loss of a dream as ill health shatters a life.
History is important. We all want to learn from the lessons of the past. Ancient artefacts are fascinating. Restoration of objects and land is important.
There is a search for treasure. Over the course of the book, we learn what is of true value, what is priceless and needs to be treasured. The ghosts of the past will not be able to rest until what is lost, is found and restored.
Animals have a strange sixth sense as demonstrated by a dog who is as much a character as the human ones.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Winter Garden and cannot wait for more from Nicola Cornick. I always love her books.
I received a free copy from Harper Collins for a blog tour. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.