Book: The Lavender Garden
Author: Lucinda Riley
An aristocratic French family, a legendary chateau, and buried secrets with the power to destroy two generations torn between duty and desire.
In the sun-dappled south of France, Emilie de la Martinamp, the last of her gilded line, inherits her childhood home, a magnificent chateau and vineyard. With the property comes a mountain of debt and almost as many questions . . .
Paris, 1944: A bright, young British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent undercover to Paris to be part of Churchill's Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from her contacts in the Resistance, she soon stumbles into the heart of a prominent family who regularly entertain elite members of the German military even as they plot to liberate France. But in a city rife with collaborators and rebels, Constance's most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart.
As Emilie discovers what really happened to her family during the war and finds a connection to Constance much closer than she suspects, the chateau itself may provide the clues that unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future. Here is a dazzling novel of intrigue and passion from one of the world's most beloved storytellers.-Goodreads
Review: This book starts off very slow and boring. So slow and boring that I almost gave up reading it, which is something I rarely do. The book begins with Emilie's story, and eventually the narrative shifts back and forth from present day Emilie to WWII Constance. Emilie was a tough read for me the entire book-she was so passive and uninterested in almost everything around her, I could not root for her as a character. I'll avoid spoilers but she enters in a relationship with someone quickly and I don't know if he could have been any more shady. Literally, the slime dripped off of him in almost every exchange they had. It takes her the entire novel to see his true ways. I understand we are to believe she was vulnerable in her state of grief, but this was just ridiculous it took her so long.
Now, onto Constance. Once the novel shifted timelines, the pace picked up and I became much more interested. Constance is chosen for the SOE because she speaks flawless French. After a quick training, she ends up living with a wealthy family that entertains Nazi's during the day but secretly helps the resistance at night. I really enjoyed Constance as a character and thought her struggles, which included having to feign interest in a sadistic Nazi officer and her guilt about not be able to help the Allies as she was trained to do was fascinating. Another main character that I liked was Edouard, the wealthy Nazi entertainer/resistance leader. While he was written a little wooden at times, his storyline was very interesting. Edouard's sister, Sophia on the other hand was slightly annoying. She was Edouard's blind sister who he sheltered from everything so while she was a mature woman in her mid-20's emotionally she was very immature. She eventually commences a relationship with a high ranking Nazi and I actually enjoyed this plot line.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The WWII storyline was the highlight of the book and I'm glad I pushed through and finished it.
My favorite quote of the book" "..sometimes the badge you're forced to wear in life does not necessarily indicate the kind of person you are. Or your true loyalties."