Sunday, 18 September 2016
The Trysting Tree - Linda Gillard - dual time mystery romance
The Trysting tree – Linda Gillard
The Trysting tree is a very emotional dual time romance combined with an intriguing family mystery which spans 100 years.
Modern day – divorcee Ann moves into her parents old house to care for her ailing, infirm and seemingly uncaring, artist mother Phoebe, and begins to restore the ancient garden with the help of aspiring landscape enthusiast and amateur genealogist Connor. This modern day story explores the difficulty of strained relationships between mother and daughter, and how the past can never really be put behind us. Ann and Connor find an affinity and share similar pasts, and the irascible Phoebes interest is sparked by the story of Connors family history, linked to the womens home and which he is keen to unravel especially since his grandma Ivy died trying to conceal something, there are hints at the nature of the mystery but not at all the heartache and tragedy which we watch unfold.
When an ancient tree is felled and releases a cache of hidden seed packets each holding a hidden secret the past begins to catch up with the present in a series of parallels and coincidences.
Last century - Hester is betrothed to the dull Walter but her interest in nature and gardens ignites an unlikely and forbidden friendship with the gardener at her family home.
I loved the parts of this story set in the past, even more than the present day events. I found Ann a rather difficult character to warm to at first, whereas as soon as Hester was introduced the book livened up and I felt an affinity with this young woman struggling to be what society expects of her yet follow her own instincts too. Her story becomes more poignant with the outbreak of world war one and the painful legacy this dreadful war bequeaths this family. Ann grew on me gradually like a seed germinating in the murky soil of secrets and concealment.
The author has her own unique style which I first discovered in the wonderful Star Gazing, she creates an unlikely heroine of mature years with a pretty ordinary life and a few flaws and weaves a fascinating and gripping story around her. She undoubtedly draws on her own life experiences, I’m not telling tales out of school if I mention the authors own experiences, fighting and winning, then recovering from cancer, which are skilfully woven into the fabric of this book.
This is just one of several dark and deep themes this novel explores, Linda Gillard isn’t frightened to write about difficult subjects with ease and authority, yet a thread of humour and lightness lifts the mood. A lovely read for new and existing fans of Ms Gillard and afficionados of the dual time romance.
It's the perfect balance of light and dark, romance and mystery to enthrall even the most demanding reader and you will need a little supply of tissues tucked up your sleeve when you settle down beneath The Trysting tree.
The Blurb (from Goodreads)
THE TRYSTING TREE - a heartbreaking story of love and loss by Linda Gillard, author of HOUSE OF SILENCE.
A century of secrets...
Four women live in the shadow of the Trysting Tree.
All have something to hide.
A man without a memory walks away from the Somme battlefield, while a young woman grieves beneath the tree that will guard her secret for a hundred years.
Ann de Freitas doesn’t remember what she witnessed when she was five. The truth lies buried in the beech wood, forgotten for forty years. Can love unlock Ann’s heart and mind?
Connor Grenville is restoring the walled garden where his grandmother, Ivy used to play. Before her death, she tried to destroy the family archive. Who was Ivy trying to protect? And why?
When a storm fells the Trysting Tree, revealing a century-old love hidden in its hollow heart, Ann and Connor begin to sift through the past in search of answers. What they discover changes everything.
“The story doesn’t start here. I need to go back. Back to a time when the beech tree still stood, when I didn’t know the truth about my family and Connor didn’t know the truth about his. Right back to a time when the twentieth century was young and the beech still kept its secrets…”