Cover Image: The Garden of Lost Secrets

The Garden of Lost Secrets

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Member Reviews

I think I am burned out on historical fiction and so I think thats why this book did not work for me. This will be perfect for readers new to the genre.
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Thank you Netgalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for the chance to read an advance copy of The garden of lost secrets by Kelly Bowen. I enjoyed the author's previous book, The Paris apartment, that I requested her latest one. A dual timeline novel based during WWII and present day; the story of Stasia and Nicolas who lose each other during the war, and Stasia's granddaughters who are thinking of buying and restoring a chateau.  The two sisters had grown apart and hope that the restoration brings them together.  I enjoyed reading The garden of lost secrets, and while I did not find it as good as The Paris apartment, I do recommend to those who enjoy WWII dual timeline stories.
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The Garden of Lost Secrets is an exceptional read that I thoroughly enjoyed. The author has a remarkable talent for weaving a beautifully heart-wrenching story that captivates the reader from start to finish. The characters are well-developed, and the storyline is so fascinating that I found it difficult to put the book down. One of the things I appreciated most about this novel is how the author seamlessly blends the past and present. The story takes place during WWII, and the author does an excellent job portraying the horrors of war. It is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction set during this time period. The Garden of Lost Secrets is a page-turning novel that will leave you feeling emotionally invested in the characters and their journey.
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3.5 stars

The Garden of Lost Secrets falls in the WW2 historical fiction genre although it leans heavily on the fiction side as the characters and plot come from the author's creative mind. While certain facts about the war are incorporated into the story there's not going to be a big opportunity to learn anything new if that's one of your main goals. Early on though the story did hook me and it managed to be an interesting read.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot although feel free to check out the publisher's synopsis as that provides more details. Basically you have a young woman named Stasia who spends her summers at her grandparents' home in the French countryside. When the war breaks out, her life is changed forever.

It's a dual timeline story so the story alternates between the WW2 years and the present day in which Isabelle wants to renovate a chateau in France. She and her sister have drifted apart and she is hoping this project which they both can work on, might bring them closer together. Add an a little bit of a mystery and that's the basics of the plot.

Stasia and Nicholas were the characters I was most heavily invested in and therefore their chapters were the ones I liked reading the most. There wasn't as much development with the present day characters so their scenes didn't leave a lasting impression on me. The best moment of the book for me was the mention of pails. It's a beautiful sentiment and one I won't soon forget.
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Stasia meets Nicholas and their lives become intertwined, until war starts and they end up apart and living things they never imagined; things that are changing who they are. Can they find each other and themselves again?
The Garden of Lost Secrets was a deeply interesting story that I truly enjoyed. I really liked Stasia from the very start and Nicholas too. 
I actually knew little about the way war affected Amsterdam so it was interesting, yet heartbreaking to read about it.
I liked the two timelines and how they were connected, I liked the mystery atmosphere about Briar Rose as well.
Even though the chapter were longer than what I usually read, the story was gripping and I couldn’t stop reading. The ending was good but I’d have liked something a little bit different.
It was a powerful story about hope and strength. About light among darkness. I highly recommend it to Historical Fiction fans.
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Another beautiful novel by Kelly Bowen! I had been in a horrible, reading, slump, and this book brought me out of it. The authors writing draws you in immediately, so you form a connection with the characters. I highly recommend this book for any World War II historical fiction lover.
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Thanks to Forever for a copy of The Garden of Lost Secrets by Kelly Bowen! This is a World War II Historical Fiction set in France in both the 1940s and today. 

I don't want to say too much to give away the story but this is your classic WWII Historical Fiction of secrets from an older relative during the war come to light in the present day.

I liked how this looked from a French soldier's perspective for a part of Nicholas's story. I learned about a few things that I didn't know as much about.  You can tell the author did a lot of research and mentioned some unique things but to me there was nothing special in this story. I read a lot of WWII Historical Fiction and am kinda picky. I liked The Paris Apartment so was a little disappointed in this book. I wish this book only had the WWII storyline, it didn't need to be a dual timeline.  

If you're just getting into Historical Fiction then you might enjoy this book more than I did. The Garden of Lost Secrets comes out Tuesday - May 16th.
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Isabelle and Emilie discover there was much much more to their grandmother Stascia than they ever knew in this dual time line novel about the resistance in France during WWII.  Isabelle was hoping that she could renew her relationship with her sister Emilie as they renovate a chateau, a chateau which turns out to hold secrets of both courage and treachery.  Stascia was one of the most hunted of the resistance, a (very) young woman who was responsible for the deaths of many Nazis.  But what about her love, Nicolas?  In some ways, this might be familiar territory for fans of the WWII genre but Bowen is a good storyteller who will keep you guessing. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  For those who enjoy historical fiction.
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The Garden of Lost Secrets is beautifully written historical fiction with a romance element. Told through a dual timeline structure, it crafts the story of two sisters in the process of purchasing and renovating a chateau and of their great-grandmother who crafted fairy tales around it.

At turns heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Garden of Lost Secrets had me enchanted. I LOVED it.

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the story:

"It was the perfect apex of a perfect fairy tale—a moment that, had she been writing a make-believe story, should have been one of extraordinary elation and uninhibited happiness. Yet all that engulfed her was a feeling of profound heartache and regret. Because it was just that—fiction. No one lived in a fairy tale. And no one could undo the past."

Please be aware that the majority of this story occurs during the Second World War, so if this may be triggering for you, please check content warnings before picking up this book.

I received an advance copy from Forever and NetGalley. All review opinions are my own.
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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 
The Garden of Lost Secrets was a massive disappointment, especially after I really enjoyed Kelly Bowen’s previous WWII historical fiction effort, The Paris Apartment. But this one had a lot of ideas, but none were given the chance to develop in a satisfactory way. 
The one positive, which kept me from hating the book, was that Bowen does know her stuff, and I liked that she captured the war from two different perspectives, and showed how both Stasia and Nicolas were impacted. I really liked seeing Stasia grow as a person, becoming Briar Rose, and Nicolas as a contrast holding onto the memory of Stasia from before as a source of hope. 
However, for a book billed as a “romance” on NetGalley, it didn’t feel like it was the central conflict. The confrontation about this after their reunion occurs way too late in the narrative, and then just a few chapters later, they’re both open to starting anew. It’s not a hearts-and-flowers ending, but it still felt too abrupt for my liking. 
And the choice to add a framing narrative in the present was a massive mistake, as it felt massively underdeveloped by comparison. I can’t tell you a single important thing about Isabelle or her sister or whoever else was involved, other than that they’re the great-granddaughters of Stasia. I get what Bowen was going for, trying to establish Stasia’s legacy living on, but unlike other multigenerational dual timeline novels, I just didn’t feel like there was a purpose. This arc could easily have been cut and the novel reformatted to flesh out the historical characters and their relationships a lot more. 
While I was severely let down by this book, it could be that I went in expecting something else based on my prior experiences with  Bowen’s work, not to mention bringing my own preferences about this style of book into my reading experience. Most other reviews I’ve seen lean toward the favorable side, so I’d consider consulting varying opinions when deciding whether this book is right for you.
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Another excellent historical novel from Bowen, this one focused on a Dutch woman working for the resistance during WWII and her childhood sweetheart, a Frenchman also doing his part in the war efforts. The historical sections that follow Stasia and Nicholas are fantastic, engrossing and deeply disturbing at times. I loved both characters and really felt their struggles. Unfortunately, there is a contemporary storyline that was completely flat and did nothing to enhance the narrative, in my opinion. Isabelle and her estranged sister Emilie are renovating a chateau in the French countryside while trying to figure out if their beloved great grandmother was also a fearless Resistance fighter codenamed "Briar Rose." These contemporary characters were not fleshed out at all, and I had no interest in their family drama or the hasty love interest thrown in. Every time I was pulled out of the WWII storylines I felt annoyed. Fortunately, the book spent the bulk of its time in the past, so I still wholeheartedly recommend this for lovers of historical fiction. Thank you to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for a digital review copy.
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I've always been interested in history.  This book gives your a ringside view of what went on in parts of Europe that were not the big cities, and how regular citizens stepped up to help the military take their countries back from the Nazis.  

Once again, I was reading on my tablet and checking the historical facts  the writer speaks of against the historical fiction woven into this book, on my phone!  So many issues I hadn't knows about WWII that the author addresses.  We can't let historical fact die due to the passage of time.  These people mattered and should be remembered for their daring acts of heroism.  

A duel time-line story, Ms. Bowen weaves the present with the past magnificently.  Stasia and Nicolas were the characters from the past with most of the book being about them.  Their granddaughters were the people in the present, learning about their ancestors and the daring deeds they were involved in during WWII.  Things Stasia and Nicolas never spoke of to anyone.

I loved this book on so many levels.  An eminently satisfying read.
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Kelly Bowen is one of my favorite writers and once again she tells a story peopled with strong, complex characters. This story focuses on Stasia and Nicholas before and during WWII in France and the Netherlands and their activities in the Resistance to Nazi occupation. Their back story in Rouen before the war and the tragedies that occur to make each think that the other has died before they are able to acknowledge their love gives the story a lot of its momentum. There is also a second timeline in the present with their great-granddaughters as those great-granddaughters work to restore the chateau that is central to the story and to tease out the truth of the local legend of the Resistance fighter Briar Rose. Unfortunately, the story jumps through time and perspective so often that it is a bit too confusing, but on the whole this is a very nice addition to historical fiction of WWII Resistance based on facts.
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This is the present day story of two sisters trying to get along while renovating an old chateau but finding stories about their great grandmother during WW2.
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This was a really enjoyable WWII historical fiction. I always love stories that center around the strong women who fight in the resistance.

It was very interesting to get the story from Stasia and Nicholas’ perspectives. Seeing them progress through the war and finally reunite. 

And I liked seeing the present day, with Isabelle fixing the chateau and discovering her great grandmother’s secret.

I would definitely recommend this one to historical fiction fans.
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"Based upon a remarkable true story, The Garden of Lost Secrets is the riveting tale of one woman's secrets lost in the chaos of war.

1940 - Stasia always found comfort in the idyllic French countryside where she spent her childhood summers, roaming the gardens of an old chateau and finding inspiration for fairy tales full of bravery and adventure. But these days are much darker, and with Nazis storming across Europe, she soon finds herself one of the most hunted agents of the Resistance. The only safe haven she can think of is Chateau de Montissaire. But she's about to discover that it just may be the center of her biggest mission yet.

Present day - When Isabelle purchases a crumbling chateau in Rouen, it's not just a renovation project - it's a chance to reconnect with her sister, Emilie, the only family she has left. What she uncovers instead is an intriguing mystery... As the siblings piece together the incredible truth behind the books written by their great-grandmother Stasia, they discover an exciting story of courage in the face of treachery and an explosive secret that will change everything they believed about their family."

A very Kate Morton vibe!
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Is there anything better than an absolutely great split-time novel? I don't think there is and this one is amazing!

First, the settings, especially the WWII in France and the Netherlands; the contemporary one in France at the same manor house. So much history and connections, secrets that we discover as we read more and more.

The characters are amazing, the stories are so well written, and I couldn't put it down!

Highly recommend.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Forever for the opportunity to read The Garden of Lost Secrets
by Kelly Bowen.  Gorgeous story that I did not want to end.  Kelly Bowen is a master.
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This dual-timeline book will keep you intrigued until the very end.  We have a modern day set of sisters who are renovating a castle in France, and the story of their great-grandmother, a French Resistance fighter in WWII.  Personally, I liked the historic timeline better than the modern one, but they tie together, so you need both.  There is mystery, action, and a bit of romance woven together to create an adventurous plot. You can tell the author has really done her research to make it as realistic as possible.
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Thoroughly enjoyable read! I love reading stories of real women who endured the chaos of crisis/war and the strength they provide to other women. Too man brave women’s stories have been lost in time. Highly recommend!
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