The Victory Garden

The Victory Garden

Large Print - 2019
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"From the bestselling author of The Tuscan Child comes a beautiful and heart-rending novel of a woman's love and sacrifice during the First World War"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Thorndike, Maine : Center Point Large Print, 2019.
Edition: Large Print edition.
ISBN: 9781643581439
Characteristics: 500 pages (large print) ; 22 cm.


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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.

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.

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.

Mar 18, 2019

Enjoyable and satisfying gentle read, although somewhat predictable.

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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