Within the Garden

 The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson The wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert

The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson 
Mystery, romance, and WWII history figure in the three novellas in Lawrenson's latest book. The first follows Ellie Brooke, a young designer commissioned to restore the derelict garden of a sprawling French estate. Ellie's excitement for the project is challenged when she meets the home's elderly owner, a mysterious woman determined to sabotage both Ellie and her work. In the second, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman who works in a perfume factory, suddenly finds herself involved with the local Resistance movement. In it, she faces unexpected challenges and discovers the breadth of her own untapped bravery. Finally, there is Iris Nightingale, a British intelligence agent sent to wartime France, where she falls in love with a French agent. When he disappears following a brutal Nazi reprisal, Iris becomes determined to find him and discover the truth about his identity. Set amid the beautiful landscape of Provence, The Sea Garden moves deftly between time and place to bring these stories to life and carry them toward their stunning conclusions. (Booklist Reviews) 

In these linked stories, all set in the pristine Connecticut suburb of Old Cranbury, Acampora wields prose with the precision of a scalpel, insightfully dissecting people's desperate emotions and most cherished hopes. A home inspector undergoing a bitter divorce tries to dissuade a couple from buying their dream home, unable to bear the sight of their optimism about the future. A disturbed businessman becomes obsessed with the idea of viewing his wife's brain surgery while inside the operating room. A young, pregnant wife cannot believe the advertising executive that she married now wants to chuck his career and heed the call of his spirit animal. Acampora not only meticulously conveys the allure of an outwardly paradisaical suburban community, with its perfectly restored Victorian homes and well-tended lawns; she also clearly captures the inner turmoil of its residents, homing in on their darkest impulses and beliefs. Some of the stories' starring characters make cameos in others, adding considerable complexity to the whole.Acampora brilliantly captures the heartaches and delusions of American suburbanites. (Booklist *Starred Review*) 

In her first novel, Rickert, whose Map of Dreams was a World Fantasy Award winner for short fiction, unwinds the magic and mystery of a mother and daughter and three old friends, all at the fragile juncture of truth and forgiveness. At the heart of the story are 64-year-old Nan, rumored to be a witch, and her 16-year-old adopted daughter, Bay, bound by a carefully guarded secret that's revealed during a weekend reunion of Nan's childhood friends, Mavis and Ruthie. Ghosts live in the garden of Nan and Bay—an angry boy killed in a car crash, an abused girl who died after a botched abortion, a disgraced neighbor—and Bay can see them. Only her beloved Nan, dying Mavis, and tortured Ruthie can explain to Bay the melancholic restlessness of the ghosts, and the history that is connected to Bay's origin. But in the end, Bay has the magic that heals and comforts Nan with the realization that it's one thing to be forgiven by someone else, another to forgive yourself." (Publishers Weekly Review)

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