Marcia Willett's The Garden House is a charming and heartwarming novel about family, yearning, and long-buried secrets …
Fresh out of university and right on the precipice of adulthood, El is trying her best to figure out what it is she really wants from life. This is complicated by the fact that she is also dealing with the loss of her father, Martin. After his sudden death, El inherits and moves into his home just outside Tavistock, in the Devon countryside. Her stepbrother and sort-of friend, Will, comes to help her through her grief and to go through her father’s belongings. As El spends time in her father’s home, she uncovers more about his life, and the secrets he had been keeping from her and her family. This includes mysterious messages on his phone from someone El suspects may have been more than just a friendly acquaintance.
Julia is also mourning Martin, but for many reasons, they thought best to keep their relationship a secret. So she must now grieve entirely on her own. All she has to remember of her love are the text messages they sent to each other in their secret code, and the memories of their time spent at The Garden House: a beautiful community garden and teashop nearby. It is where they met, fell in love, and where their secret affair will inevitably be uncovered one day.
As El and Will begin to decipher the messages on Martin’s phone, and piece together her father’s long-buried secrets, they are brought closer and closer to each other, to Julia, and to a truth that is difficult for all to face.