No on can deny that Sorrel Sparrow has something of a magic tough when it comes to plants and gardens. It's evident at the nursery she and her sisters share. It's evident at their home garden as well. And it's even more evident in the demand for her handiwork throughout their small New England village. It's this notoriety that catches the attention of Sir Graham Kirkwood. Kirkwood doesn't live in Granite Point, or even in the US, but his sister does, and it's she who sends word about Sorrel as Graham searches for someone to help with his estate's famed Shakespeare Garden.
But what Graham doesn't tell Sorrel when seeking out her help is that the garden has long been rumored to be cursed. In fact, Graham has sought out Sorrel specifically so that he can keep his wife, who grew mysteriously ill after taking on the garden's revitalization project, out of the garden's snare.
But even as Sorrel faces her first big trip away from her sisters and her home, she is drawn to the mysterious walled garden. She's also increasingly drawn to Graham's surly brother in law. Will her talents be enough to overcome both the plagued garden and the equally emotionally plagued Andrew?
It's been over a year since Herrick's debut introduced readers to the Sparrow sisters: Sorrel, Nettie, and Patience. Together, they run a nursery known throughout the area surrounding Granite Point for its gorgeous blooms that last well beyond the season. But in The Sparrow Sisters, tragedy strikes their small town and suspicious eyes turn on the sisters, Patience in particular.
Though the town has healed and has turned out to support the sisters once again, when The Forbidden Garden begins, the sisters are still reeling from the fallout. And so, though Sorrel has never traveled overseas or spent any significant time away from her home or her younger sisters, she finds herself somewhat in need of a change of scenery.
And the idea of the Shakespeare Garden is too intriguing to resist, in spite of her apprehension about being away from home and the nursery for so long. I can empathize, the garden and it's secrets was too much to resist for me as a reader too! Throughout the narrative, there are allusions to a great Kirkwood secret that has plagued the family for generations. And it's directly tied to the garden, as Graham Kirkwood himself admits that the bare patch has been a dark spot on the estate that many have tried, and failed, to conquer.
I was glad to see Sorrel get her own story. Of the three sisters, I felt she was the one who remained the most closed off to readers in Herrick's debut. Her story was as much of a draw for me as the mysterious garden. She's taken out of her comfort zone and thrown in with a family she barely knows (because there is that Granite Point connection with Fiona, Graham's sister). But she acclimates easily to her new setting, set on bringing life to the ancient garden.
As with The Sparrow Sisters, The Forbidden Garden features fabulous imagery and detail. The hints of magical realism throughout (maybe more than hints, but by no means overwhelming) make it even more of a (sorry for the pun) enchanting read.
You do not have to have read The Sparrow Sisters in order to enjoy Sorrel's story. That said, you are missing out on quite a bit of character development and scene setting for where she is when The Forbidden Garden begins. And of course I quite enjoyed that first outing with the sisters, so I do recommend it!
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