book reviews

Book Review: The Midsummer Garden


The Midsummer Garden
: Kirsty Manning
Published: 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
My Rating: 4/5

Two stories come together in a rich and sensuous celebration of family and love, passion and sacrifice.

Behind the beautiful cover of The Midsummer Garden, lies an equally beautiful tale of two women, hundreds of years apart. Sumptuous food, glorious imagery, and alluring settings from rugged Tasmania to the landscapes of Spain, France and Italy – what’s not to love?

Combining her rich culinary and gardening knowledge with her beautifully lyrical prose, Kirsty Manning has written a stunning debut novel. The story travels between contemporary 2014, and medieval France in 1487. In the contemporary story we meet Pip who is at a crossroads – continue her marine biology studies or marry Jack and commit to his dreams on the vineyard. In 1487, we are introduced to Artemisia, who with her exceptional knowledge of herbalists’ lore, runs a chateau kitchen under the repulsive Abbot Roald. However, Artemisia dreams of another life; one of freedom, one of love.

Through every word you are transported on a rich journey along both timelines, and Kirsty’s ability to draw you in and invest in both Pip  and Artemisia’s stories is effortless. The prose is as delicious as the aromas you imagine wafting from the kitchen’s of medieval France and contemporary Tuscany. And the way both stories unfold into each other is achingly beautiful.

I have read reviews that mention Artemisia’s story is more compelling than Pip’s. Each to their own, but I would disagree. I think Pip’s story is an important one to be told, and I could certainly empathize with her journey in more ways than not.

The Midsummer Garden is a feel good read. One that you will devour quickly and one that will warm your heart.