It’s been a bit quiet on the blog recently – a silence most of you will need no explanation for. Much as I always approach the summer holidays with a memory of how busy they’ve been in the past, I still get to this point and wonder how it could have been as busy as it actually ended up being.
We’ve been away a couple of times, which was lovely, exploring different parts of the UK and even enjoying some good weather for a change. There’s not a whole load of reading time on holidays once kids come along, but I was fortunate to grab a few moments this summer to read The Gardener’s Daughter by K.A. Hitchins.
The story is told from the perspective of 19-year-old Ava Gage. Having had a comfortable childhood, raised by brilliant botanist Theo Gage, and his long-term housekeeper/nanny Paloma, a chance discovery leads her to realise that Theo is, in fact, not her biological father.
Fuming at having been lied to for so long, Ava runs away, determined to find out who her father is. But her innocence is about to be destroyed, as she gets a job at the holiday park her deceased mother worked at, and finds herself ensconced in some pretty dark goings-on.
The plot gets thicker and thicker, and with the police in on the deception, there seems to be no way that Ava and her new detective-friend Zavier can break the cycle and see justice come about for those guilty of abuse and mistreatment.
I can’t say too much without giving away the plot – the book’s so good you’ll have to read it yourself! But allow me to say that the ending is very satisfying, and will leave you wanting more.
It’s not a genre I usually read, but I was thoroughly hooked by a host of very believable characters, as well as the highly evocative setting. Hitchins writes in a very meticulous and precise style, which took me a couple of chapters to get used to, but eventually grew to love, as the scene she painted became so alive in my mind.
The book has scarce mention of God, but the whole story is a Christian allegory, based on The Prodigal Son. This parable is a fabulous story, timeless, and appealing to those of all faiths and none, but I did feel that occasionally more could have been gained in The Gardener’s Daughter from not feeling so constrained by the parable – the allegory, I felt, still could have been very clear even with a few different aspects.
Another thing which slightly jarred was the mention of Facebook and ‘selfies’ – the book is set in 2003, when neither of these existed!
Still, none of these niggles were enough to kill my enjoyment of the book. I warmed to the characters, got wrapped up in the fictional town and locations described, laughed along at the humorous scenes, and was on the edge of my seat for several chapters towards the end, as the plot thickened and the climax approached.
The Gardener’s Daughter was fabulous summer reading for me, and will be fabulous Autumn reading for you! Simply click hereto order a copy for yourself or a friend (why not get an easy Christmas present under your belt for a friend or family member who loves to read?). It would make superb book club material too, as there would be plenty to discuss.
BUT – before you do – publisher Instant Apostle has given me a free copy to give away. To enter, simply join my mailing list here – or, if you’re already on, leave a comment below. Deadline this Saturday 1st September, 9pm BST.
Giveaway now closed – congratulations to Jenni who won!
Disclaimers: I was given a free copy of this book to review, but never publish reviews of anything I don’t enjoy, so you can be confident I’m telling the truth, and that this is in fact an excellent book! This blog post contains affiliate links – if you click through and make a purchase, I make a small commission at no extra cost to yourself, helping me to keep providing free articles on this blog. Thanks for your support!
Why not check out some of my other reviews?