Sometimes books surprise you. And The Winter Garden was one of those in the very best ways. I fell for this wonderful story within just a few pages, and devoured it so quickly. Think of this as Lady Trent mixed with fairy tale vibes and featuring an aromantic heroine. This is just such a delightful, cosy book that I want to shove into everyone’s hands.
Massive thanks to Del Rey for sending me an ARC and having me join the blog tour. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 02/09/2021
STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: On the night her mother dies, 8-year-old Beatrice receives an invitation to the mysterious Winter Garden. A place of wonder and magic, filled with all manner of strange and spectacular flora and fauna, the garden is her solace every night for seven days. But when the garden disappears, and no one believes her story, Beatrice is left to wonder if it were truly real.
Eighteen years later, on the eve of her wedding to a man her late father approved of but she does not love, Beatrice makes the decision to throw off the expectations of Victorian English society and search for the garden. But when both she and her closest friend, Rosa, receive invitations to compete to create spectacular pleasure gardens – with the prize being one wish from the last of the Winter Garden’s magic – she realises she may be closer to finding it than she ever imagined.
Now all she has to do is win. (from Del Rey)
OPINIONS: I love Beatrice. She is such an amazing leading character – not without flaws and struggles, but determined and real. She reminds me a lot of Isabella, Lady Trent from Marie Brennan’s The Natural History of Dragons – except instead of being motivated by dragons, Beatrice is motivated by her search for a magical garden full of wonders – the titular Winter Garden. She is explicitly written as aromantic and asexual – though far from cold or frigid. She loves her friends dearly and is determined to make her own way in the world. Rosa, the other PoV character in the story, is just as interesting and complex. She initially gets everything she dreams of – but soon learns that this might not be exactly what she thought it be like. A brilliant inventor of clockwork creatures, she finds herself in a loveless marriage with only her mechanical birds for protection. And she too is determined to carve out her own path.
Enter the Winter Garden. While Beatrice had been hunting for it since childhood, Rosa only heard about it through Beatrice. But as both women settle into adulthood and their own struggles, they are invited to participate in a competition for a wish and have to decide how far they are willing to go for the ultimate prize. All in all, this is such a delightful and wholesome book – the perfect comfort read as the days are getting shorter and it is time to curl up under a blanket with a hot drink and a good book. I haven’t fallen so hard for a book in ages – and been so positively surprised. I’d gone into reading this with no expectations, as I asked for it forever ago and didn’t even read the blurb before I dove in last weekend and then just fell for it within a few pages and started recommending it to everyone who would listen. I even considered staying up very late to read it in a single sitting (I ended up managing half).
So, very highly recommend this delightful book if you’re looking for some escapism, and like some whimsy in your stories. Add The Winter Garden to your Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).