The Victory Garden

The Victory Garden

Book - 2019
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As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage. When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a "land girl," tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It's here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily's lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified--and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow. As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster, but may open a path to her destiny.
Publisher: Seattle : Lake Union Publishing, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781542040129
1542040124
9781542040112
1542040116
Branch Call Number: FIC BOWEN, RHYS
Characteristics: 353 pages ; 22 cm

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sandraperkins
May 05, 2019

Emily Bryce is a young woman in England near the end of WWI. About to turn 21, she is bored at being at home with her overprotective parents (who lost their only son in the first days of the war). There is a convalescent home for injured officers nearby, and she (secretly) meets and falls in love with a dashing young officer from Australia. As soon as she turns 21, she volunteers for service to her country, and becomes a Land Girl. I had heard of Land Girls, but this is the first book I ever read about them. In England, so many men were gone that the country’s leaders worried everyone would starve because there were not enough people to harvest crops and take care of farms and farm animals. Woman volunteered for the Land Army; they were trained to do all sorts of farming tasks from plowing to planting to harvesting to taking care of pigs. The story of harvesting potatoes sounded awful to me!

Emily thought she would become a nurse like her friend Clarissa, but they needed Land Girls, so she agreed to do that. Her parents were horrified; they thought it was beneath her. And indeed, the other woman in her unit were of lower classes than she, but they were good people and hard workers, and she liked and respected them, and she became good friends with some of them.

Meanwhile, she became engaged to her Australian officer, and they had one wonderful day together before he was shipped back to the front. Tragically, he was killed; he stayed with his plane instead of ejecting so he could save other people’s lives in the village where his damaged plane was heading.

There is plenty more going on in the plot of this book, and Emily is a strong, resilient young woman, as indeed she needs to be, with all that is happening. WWI was a terrible time for everyone; nearly everyone lost family members (or they had family members who were badly injured, physically and/or mentally). And even after the war finally ended, they had the terrible influenza epidemic that killed so many more.

One common theme of Rhys Bowen’s books is that the women are strong and forthright, and they do jobs that were not common for women of the time. They speak their minds, and they do what they want to do, even if it is unusual for the period. (Think of Molly Murphy being a female detective in NYC in the early 20th century.) I have no doubt that women were strong and had opinions in these earlier times; I just question how many of them took actions that are more common in our own day than they were then.

But no matter, it is still fun to read these novels! I enjoyed this book, and I respect Emily for her hard work and her resolve. I would enjoy reading a sequel to this book, to see what happens next to Emily and the other characters.

d
dhuli
Apr 21, 2019

I very much enjoyed this easy, comfortable read. You really feel back in WWI England with all it's anxieties and social complexity.

l
lilypad_1
Apr 11, 2019

This novel did give a fairly good description of what "land girls" did in England during the War, the societal limits on women were explained, the Spanish Flu was also brought up. Other than the principal character experimenting with herbs and tinctures it was a predictable romance, she was rebellious, her parents disapproved, they fell in love, etc. There was also a nice little twist near the end but all tidied up with a bow.

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_Amazon_
Mar 18, 2019

Enjoyable and satisfying gentle read, although somewhat predictable.

j
JanetPDX
Mar 09, 2019

An enjoyable story. I breezed right through it, needing to know what happened next. A light read, short chapters, sad at times, with characters you feel for and root for.

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