Secrets: Garden of Stones

Today’s review comes from my friend and new TBYL Reviewer, Anne Hoye. In January Anne read Catch of the Day, a fun, light-hearted romance. This time, Anne she’s gone for something a little darker.  Anne’s review this week is of Sophie Littlefield’s Garden of Stones (Harlequin)…

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“In the dark days of war, a mother makes the ultimate sacrifice.”

garden of stonesGarden of Stones is a story of a mother’s love and a daughter’s courage, set in America during the second World War, with flashes forward to the year 1978. This is a wonderful story, well written, and it’s very interesting.

Lucy and her parents  are Japanese, living in Los Angeles. They lead a comfortable life, filled with luxuries. However, after the sudden death of her father, and the bombing of Pearl Harbour, Lucy and her mother’s lives are turned upside down. Their non-Japanese friends and neighbours turn against them, “because you’re a Jap”.  All Japanese people, including Lucy and her mother, Miyako, are rounded up and sent off to Manzanar, a prison camp. The conditions are harsh, with gaps in the floors and walls, allowing the cold, and the sand, and the heat to constantly enter their sparse rooms.

Miyako and Lucy are beautiful. Miyako catches the eye of the prison guards, and suffers abuse over many months. When Lucy begins to be targeted by the same prison guards, Miyako is horrified, and tries to protect Lucy. Unfortunately, the manner in which Miyako protects her daughter is shocking, horrifying. As a mother, I can only imagine the horror that Miyako must have gone through at the hands of the prison guards for her to think that her actions toward Lucy were better than the thought of Lucy having to suffer the same such abuse.

Sadly, unable to bare any more, Miyako commits suicide leaving Lucy alone in the world. We follow her story as she tries to find her way through life, a path made more difficult by her looks. Lucy eventually finds love and comfort, however, after an unplanned pregnancy, this is also taken away from her.

Throughout the book, the story moves between the past, and the present (which is set in 1978.) Despite the changes in time and place, the narrative is easy to follow, as the chapters are clearly marked with the year in which that part of the story is occurring. In the year 1978, we are introduced to Lucy’s adult daughter, Patty. Patty is planning her wedding, when her mother Lucy is implicated in a murder investigation. Patty has grown up with no father, and no knowledge of who he is. She knows little of her mother’s past and it is through Patty’s determination to clear Lucy’s name, that she uncovers the real story of her mother’s upbringing.

Garden of Stones is a story of tragedy and revenge, but it is also a story about love, kindness, and forgiveness. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and couldn’t put it down. I was intrigued to find out what happened to Lucy, and through Patty’s discoveries, I kept finding out more and more surprising details which ensured I kept reading. The surprises kept coming right up until the very end. This is a real page turner – part suspense, part drama.

A highly recommended read!

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You can find out more about Sophie Littlefield’s Garden of Stones here…

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