Cover Image: The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden

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Member Reviews

A true historical fiction and I do love a good historical fiction read.  And this didn't disappoint

The story of the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy duke and how this fact affected her life.  It was dark, a bit sad and full of heartache but it was still a good read although a bit long and drawn out.  I do think if it was shortened it would have been easier to read but all in all the characters were good, the story was good and it was an enjoyable read.
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As a lifelong reader of Jane Aiken Hodge, I'm thrilled that her stories are being rereleased. The Lost Garden is one. of my favorites and tells the story of Caroline, a poor little girl left on the doorstep of a vicar and his family. Although raised by them for a somewhat happy time, she ends up being shipped back to her parents, Frances Winterton, longtime mistress of the Duke of Cley, although Caroline does not know her own parentage. I love stories like that with the drama of the Napoleonic Wars in the background. Such a fun read!
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i enjoyed reading this book very much, i was sad that I hadn't read the first four in the series. I really enjoyed the writing style and plan to read the previous books in the series.
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Originally published in 1982, this old-fashioned historical fiction with a hint of romance holds up well to modern reading. It is loosely based on the Duke of Devonshire's notorious household with his wife, his mistress, and all their children living under one roof.

Caroline grows up with a vicar's family, although she knows she was not born to them. When she is ten, and her foster mother has rejected her, she is taken to live with the Duke of Cley, leaving the only home she has ever known and her beloved garden. Neither she nor the other children are told her true parentage--the Duke is her father and his long-time mistress her mother--an omission that leads her to make a disastrous marriage.

Caroline's life as daughter, sister, wife, and sweetheart are intertwined with the history of the day. The characters are clearly drawn, and the writing is smooth and assured.

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I have officially discovered a new favorite author, oh my gosh! This story almost reads like a Jane Eyre novel. (The actual Jane Eyre, mind you. Not the re-done travesty of a movie.) I literally now need to own everything that this woman has ever written. 

Also, can we just a take a minute to salute the amazingly beautiful cover? 

The book follows the true story of the Duchess of Devonshire and Lady Elizabeth Foster, following the life of Caroline as she moves from home to home, finally landing in the house of her biological father, unbeknownst to her. While we get to know Caroline in all of her beautiful humanity, we also have the privilege of following what happens as she maneuvers life with the cruel Duke, her kind half-brother and her difficult romance. This book is literally impossible to put down, the characters impossible to walk away from. A massive recommend.
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I did not realize this was the 5th book in a series but it read fine as a stand alone. The book is intriguing enough I will be going back to read the previous ones. I didn’t need to read the previous titles to enjoy this one. I won’t get into the plot of the book except to say that Caroline, the main character, has had quite a life. Her birth is a scandal and as an orphan is farmed out to various families to raise her. This  seems to give her the strength she finds to get on with her life. Highly recommended!
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The Lost Garden
It was a fun, suspenseful, entertaining read that really kept my interest. There were times when it was also suspenseful.
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Caroline Thorpe believed her parents were dead and spent her younger years in the home of a country vicar. She is confused when she is summoned to the home of the Duke of Cley and heartbroken when she must remain there. The truth of her parentage is revealed in time and she accepts the offer of marriage from a man she doesn't love. But marriage brings its own trouble...

I'm not going to lie: this was a difficult book to read. From start to finish, it is dark and dreary. Caroline, a reserved and sensitive woman, has a hard journey and faces abuse -physical, mental, and emotional- from almost EVERYONE around her. Her naivety leads her to make decisions that made me cringe.

Besides her, the book is filled with unlikable characters. Perhaps that was the point? To contrast her against selfish and cruel individuals? There is one person who might have stood out, but even he is not the most moral person. He is absent for much of the story, thus making the romance with him difficult to believe.

It was well written but I found the plot depressing. Those who are sensitive to matters of abuse might want to pass this one by. I would not recommend it to anyone.
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The title of the book had me even though I didn’t realise it was the 5th in a series. Luckily I didn’t need to read the previous titles to enjoy this one. 
I won’t get into the plot of the book except to say that Caroline the main character has had quite a life. Her birth is a scandal and as an orphan is farmed out to various families to raise her. This  seems to give her the strength she finds to get on with her life. 
A wonderful read and highly recommended. I will go back and read the previous titles in the series.
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I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. To begin with, I found the story quite slow to get established. What followed was peaks and troughs of enjoyments; in other words, there were some very good, immersive parts to the story, but also sections that I found a little drab and slow.

You can imagine my dismay when I realised this was the fifth of a series! The final one of the series, as well! However, to read the other books is completely unnecessary – for which I was incredibly thankful. The other instalments cover previous generations of this family and it therefore had no impact on my understanding of the characters. Hodge gives enough background history and family knowledge that I did not care about the other four books. (Well, the OCD side of me did, but I just squashed that whilst reading.)

The plot direction surprised me throughout. There is family scandal which literally had me reading with my eyebrows raised and me turning the pages to discover the outcome of these scandals. On the other hand, throughout the story we have the threat of a French invasion from Bonaparte Napoleon and his secret supporters by the English coast. I was not expecting this background to exist in the story – especially as even the blurb makes no reference to it. I thought it added more depth to the story but did find this element a little confusing, particularly as my knowledge of this period is mostly based on my reading of Dickens and A Tale of Two Cities!

It wasn’t until I had finished the novel did I appreciate the significance of the title. After reflecting on the story, I realised that the ‘lost garden’ is a metaphor for Caroline being lost and have no roots in society, nor an obvious path in life. I had wished the writer had made more of this garden that Caroline yearns for, but its significance only became apparent in the final few chapters of the story – at a time when I found the pace a bit of a struggle.

Enjoyment with this story came from the fact it offered something different. I was expecting the trapped marriages and unhappy romances, but Hodge’s gives a little bit more with the narrative to make it mostly interesting. I admit, the scandal did get me hooked thinking, “will they? Won’t they?” but I am glad I persevered to discover what happened to Caroline.

With thanks to Agora books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I have never read any of Ms. Hodge's work.  I will read more after enjoying The Lost Garden.  Our main character, Caroline has quite a life!  Her parentage being quite a scandal, she is farmed out to others as a child.  She learns strength growing up that way.  I don't want to spoil the story, so I won't tell you what happens.  I found myself wondering how Caroline could put up with the treatment she received from so many people.  Happily, there was one person who was consistent in his kindness at all times.   Very well written story.   I did receive a complimentary read from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  My honest review is that this is a wonderful story.
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This was kind of a long drawn out book. Caroline and Mr Mattingly were the only two likeable characters. Caroline was a bit too whimpy acting towards the end. After all that , I did  enjoy the story 
 Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the early copy
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Jane Aiken Hodge’s The Lost Garden was first published in 1982 and is being re-issued by Agora Books, eleven years after her death.  I haven’t read any of her fiction before, although I  have a well-thumbed copy of her biography, The Private World of Georgette Heyer. I expected a novel very similar to that of Heyer’s, but The Lost Garden couldn’t have been written by Heyer. It’s equally well researched and written, but much darker. 

The Duke of Cley’s mistress, Francis Winterton, is sent away to give birth but does so at a rectory before reaching her planned destination. Her daughter, Caroline, is brought up with the rector’s children and has a happy childhood for several years, although she understands she is an orphan.  After that, things do not go well for her. That’s where the book differs from Heyer’s lighter style: the child / young woman is loaded with so many troubles that it’s difficult at times to see how she can ever be happy again. Her unsecure position is summed up in her sentence “If I was a teacher in a school, I would be as fierce as anything with the pupils because I would know who I was, where I stood”. It’s a tribute to Hodge’s writing that this 61-year old male really empathised with Caroline and had to keep turning the pages to see what happened next.

Hodge states in the preface that the book was inspired by two eighteenth century sisters , one of whom, the Duchess of Devonshire lived in a menage a trois with the Duke and Lady Elizabeth Foster. There’s a nice nod to that in the novel where Caroline’s mother goes off to see “her good friends the Duchess of Devonshire and Lady Elizabeth Foster”. That made me smile.

It’s a beautifully written book and I’m so grateful to Netgalley and Agora for the opportunity to read it. It drags a little in places and would benefit from being 20-30 pages shorter but that’s easy for me to say – I’m not an editor!

#TheLostGarden #NetGalley
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Someone had the great idea of bringing back the 80's books of Jane Aiken Hodge.  In those years, i absolutely loved her writing and was delighted to be given an ARC copy to review by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an  honest review.  

If only the book had ended earlier it would have earned 4 Stars.  What a wonderful surprise to find myself engrossed in the life of Caroline, secret illegitimate daughter of a duke and his paramour, raised in the Thorpe parsonage and unknowing of her true parentage.  I loved the story of her growing up and later falling in love with her half-brother (as did her half-sister with HER blow-by half-brother.  This almost-incest lent a titillating aspect to this 18th Century historical novel.  Hodge always did have a subtle sense of humor. 

Caroline is a plucky heroine, one who speaks her mind and does not lie. one who does not faint when almost being shot in the head by a playful young boy playing a highwayman.  That's what makes the final third of the book such a disappointing contrast.  Caroline is a poet and writer, in secret of course, during this less than feminist era.

After her rescue from yet another near-death experience, she behaves so out of character, subject to weakness, faintness and the megrims, that the subsequent  lead-up to her second trip to Gretna Green for yet another unwanted wedding seems unlike anything Caroline would do.  Fortunately, she recovers her spunk and it all ends happily.

If the sample chapter of another Hodge book at the end of this one is any indication, Agora Books will be bringing back more of Jane Aiken Hodge's novels.  And I'll probably try them again.  What fun to recapture a Jane Austin novel type of experience.
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I adored this book. The style is like a novel by Austen, Bronte, or Eliot. The story is lush and dramatic, the plot complex and intriguing, with plenty of twists and turns and secrets. The characters, especially Caroline, are well developed and highly engaging. Some are cruel, egotistical, and just plain mean characters that infuriated me and I needed to remind myself that the time-frame is the late 1700s early 1800s when women had no real power and few options in a rigid society. I also enjoyed the politics: the Napoleonic wars, Guy Fawkes, all woven in so well while keeping the personal alive. The novel is beautifully written and Hodge clearly was a fine wordsmith. In many ways The Lost Garden is like a spyglass into another time and place: captivating, invigorating, and I was completely hooked...until the ending. Which is why mine is a 4 star instead of a 5 star rating. 
I was happily reading, absorbed, until the last pages, outside Granny Biggs' cottage when the Hallam House carriage pulls up.  I anticipated a battle, but what happened is that suddenly there is a seemingly endless tying up of loose ends, and the talking goes on and on and on and at a rapid pace that is not in sync with the story's rhythm, all while the characters are standing in a field. The tone changed so much that and I could hardly believe I was reading the same novel. This left me disappointed after such a wonderful read, not with the outcome, with the presentation.  

Posted on Goodreads and   The former is up, the latter when the review is approved.
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Ok I hate Reading a not positive review. . But you asked honest review. I dnf ed after Reading over half the book. It had a good.concept and good characters. But not for me. Maybe it is because of the language, because wehave to remember was originally published in the early 1980s. But thank you to netgalley for letting me read this e arc in exchange for an honest opinion
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Frances Winterton is traveling with her maid in a carriage when they encounter a bridge that had been washed out.  They headed to a house for refuge.  Frances is in labor as is the mistress of the house, Mrs. Trentham.  Sadly, that woman’s baby is stillborn but Frances’s baby girl is healthy.  She names her Caroline and asks the Trenthams to adopt her.  Frances is the mistress of the Duke of Cley who is Caroline’s father.  Frances returns to the home of the Duke and Duchess where she is accepted.

When she is a teenager, Caroline is summoned to the Duke’s home to live.  She does not know that he is her father and that she is a bastard.  He has two daughters who look down on Caroline and he has two sons.  The Duke is not a kind man and Caroline feels so out of place.  However, one of the sons befriends her and shows her a private library filled with books where she is very happy.  Spending time with him makes Caroline think she is in love with him.  But when she learns he is her half brother she is devastated.  Then Tramedoc asks her to marry him and they head to Gretna Green.  He is a self-centered man who writes poetry.  Soon, she learns that he is penniless.

Tramedoc is given a position as vicar in a town close to the coast.  He is a self-centered, laudanum addict and depends upon Caroline to write his sermons as well as his poetry.  Tremadoc treats her badly and she does all she can to placate him resulting in her own low self-esteem.  But the upcoming Guy Fawkes day brings with it some big changes in her life.  Can she find a way out of the horrible existence she is in?

This is an interesting plot, although a bit too long, with some well-created characters.  As it was originally written around 1983, it could use some updating for it to appeal today’s readers.  However, we must keep in mind that this author was highly celebrated in her day.  I think readers will enjoy the time period of the book and how well the author incorporated the politics of the time, as well.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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