Today I’m over the moon to be sharing my review for the fabulous The Winter Garden, the latest Heidi Swain book set in Nightingale Square. Many thanks to the publishers for approving my request on NetGalley.
Blurb: Freya Fuller is living her dream, working as a live-in gardener on a beautiful Suffolk estate. But when the owner dies, Freya finds herself forced out of her job and her home with nowhere to go. However, with luck on her side, she’s soon moving to Nightingale Square and helping to create a beautiful winter garden that will be open to the public in time for Christmas.
There’s a warm welcome from all in Nightingale Square, except from local artist Finn. No matter how hard the pair try, they just can’t get along, and working together to bring the winter garden to life quickly becomes a struggle for them both.
Will Freya and Finn be able to put their differences aside in time for Christmas? Or will the arrival of a face from Freya’s past send them all spiralling?
My Review: I have to start by saying I loved this book. I’ve read the previous Nightingale Square books so it was lovely being able to return to an area that’s already familiar to me. The usual characters were there, as expected, but what we also got was the chance to meet newcomers Freya and Finn who move into the square for quite different, but similar, reasons.
Freya moves to the square after feeling she has no alternative but to leave her previous employment for reasons I won’t go into but safe to say any keen gardener would understand her feelings. An earlier chance visit to they square results in a job, and a home as has happened there before, and before she realises she’s being swept up in the community that exists in the square. Finn, already living nearby, doesn’t seem to be as excited by her arrival as everyone else is and it takes a bit of time to find out why that is, and what his own troubles are.
I love these books, reading this one has made me want to go back and re-read Poppy’s Recipe for Life for some reason. These books always give such a brilliant feeling of community and warm and welcoming people. I don’t even mind that they seem to drag everyone into their plans whether they like it or not because they do it with such good intentions.
The descriptions of the gardens and houses are brilliant and easily make you feel as if you are there. I’d love to move into one of the houses on the square because they sound so cosy and warm and safe. The description of the garden was excellent but I also really enjoyed the amount of information there was about winter planting, both from a perspective of being pleased that it wasn’t being skimmed over but also of getting ideas for my own garden.
I liked the interactions between Freya and Finn. Even the misunderstandings were understandable and although I was, at times, irritated because I knew the truth, I could at least understand why they thought what they did. There was also another character, more minor but still important, whose journey I loved and that was Chloe. I’m not going to say anything else as I don’t want to spoil it but it was really nice to see where her journey went and how it turned out.
This is a story about someone realising that her life needs to change, and finding it change in ways she didn’t expect. She finds community and friends and somewhere she can really call home and I think that’s all anyone can really hope for in times of change.
If you want something that will warm you from within and leave you feeling cosy and part of a community then this is the book for you. Perfect for cold, winter evenings with a roaring fire and a mug of hot chocolate. However, if you don’t have a fire (and let’s face it many of us don’t) this books works equally well with a cosy blanket and a warming drink, definitely a book to snuggle up with regardless of where/when you read it!