The Garden of Lost Secrets by Kelly Bowen
Historical Fiction | WWII
The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen was one of my favorite reads in 2021. Since then, I’ve shared my copy with three or four other friends, who have all adored it too. So, when I saw this Canadian author had a new WWII-set, historical novel on the horizon, I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy.
The Garden of Lost Secrets is a dual-timeline story set in France. Similar to a lot of other books within the genre, the contemporary timeline follows a granddaughter who is slowly uncovering clues to her grandmother’s past. While the overall plot felt familiar, the book was beautifully written and packed full of action, love, and secrets that kept me thoroughly engrossed. Bowen does an excellent job of weaving the two timelines together in a way that feels natural.
The Dutch resistance isn’t always featured as prominently in historical fiction, and I loved what this brought to the story. I also adored the little cameo appearance by the Ten Boom family. Even though they weren’t mentioned by name in the story, I immediately picked up on the reference to the watchmaker in Haarlem. (And was happy to have my suspicions confirmed after reading the author’s note!) Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place is one of my all-time favorites, and I loved this little hint at this true-life, incredible family.
I will admit that this cover is not my favorite. Bad habit or not, I constantly pick novels based on their covers and this one didn’t draw me in. The model is beautiful but the overall design felt disconnected from the experience I had while reading the book. Obviously, though, cover preferences are so subjective. And in this case, that sage, age-old advice to avoid judging a book by its cover, proved true for me once again!
Kelly Bowen is quickly becoming a favorite author. With her beautiful settings and descriptions, exciting plots, and lovely characters, this book has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf!
WWII genre, historical fiction fans
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Read Forever Pub. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
Two sisters discover the fairy tales written by their great-grandmother during WWII in this riveting tale of one woman’s secrets lost in the chaos of war—perfect for fans of Julia Kelly and Natasha Lester.
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.