The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans Review

“The future is yet unwritten; the past is burnt and gone.”

The Garden of Lost and Found is set in both the early 1900s and present day. Juliet is an art historian with three children, she’s struggling to juggle her work life, family and marriage. At work the sketch of a famous and lost painting is being sold for milions. The painting was created by Juliet’s great-grandfather Ned Horner. Shortly before he died he went mad and burned the original painting so all that is left is the sketch. After the auction Juliet gets told that they are letting her go. She goes home in a daze and discovers that her husband has been having an affair with one of her neighbours.

Her whole life has been thrown upside down, until Juliet recieves a letter and a key to an old house which was formerly owned by her grandmother. The house where The Garden of Lost and Found was painted. Juliet makes the brave decision to move there and take her children. They have a tricky adjustment period as the children are used to living in the middle of London.

We also flash back to Juliet’s great-grandparent’s lives. Liddy and Ned weren’t always happy in their beautiful house. Ned was a struggling artist, he hardly had any money. He met Liddy through her brother. Liddy and her sister Mary lived a terrible life in the clutches of their evil father and housekeeper. She used to lock the girls away with no food to punish them for goodness knows what. Liddy snuck out to see Ned but was discovered, she then spent months locked away, brainwashed into thinking she was a terrible person.

Eventually the couple found their way back to each other, their friend and architect Dalbeattie built their home for them, it had been Liddy’s mother’s home but Ned and Dalbeattie had to rebuild the inside. I love how the house is described as never being owned by people, like it has its own thoughts. Liddy has two children and the family is happy there for a time. The famous painting is of the children sitting in the garden with wings on their backs, the flowers blooming all around them and Liddy in the background.

The way the author descibes the house and the garden, especially Juliet’s day to day life there actually made me want to live in the counrtyside. Which is quite rare, the thought of the quiet and empty spaces always used to scare me. I love reading the different generations and their experiences with the house. The mystery surrounding the house and the painting is always in the back of my mind. the story is full of surprises and twists. I was surprised even right at the end. 

“I am glad of these scars. I am afraid when my sister says they have started to fade, for with them I am untouchable. I am safe from the attention of any man. I am the lucky one.”

 

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