GARDEN OF LIES by Eileen Goudge

Publisher’s Blurb:

Goudge’s blockbuster classic: A new mother’s desperate decision sets in motion a dramatic series of events leading to an epic romance. 
Sylvie wants to be a good wife to Gerald, who offers the privileged life she could only dream of, growing up. When they wed eight years ago, the country was in the throes of the Depression, and she thought she’d made the right choice.  She wants to please her new husband, and bear his children. But no matter how hard she tries,  she cannot  give him her whole heart.
 
She thinks something is wrong with her until Nikos, the earthy Greek handyman, shows her what real passion is — and gives her a child. Sylvie knows Gerald will never accept the newborn, with her black eyes and dark hair, and she despairs until a fire in the hospital gives her a way out. In the confusion she switches her daughter for another’s, a bold act that resonates through the decades and culminates in one of the most passionate love stories portrayed in contemporary fiction.

RHL Classifications: 

Romantic Historical Fiction

Heat Level 2

Review rating 5 stars

Review by Vikki

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s filled with wonderful bits of history over several decades starting in 1943 and going up to the mid-70s, which is an era I’ve not read much about before. The story starts with a young woman named Sylvie, who takes a lover. Her husband was much older than she was and while she loved him, she wasn’t attracted to him physically. Nikos, her lover, was their handyman and Sylvie’s husband lets him go and shortly after that she finds out that she’s pregnant. When she goes into labor, she goes to the hospital in her old neighborhood to have the child, during a fire, she ends up with a different baby and since her child looks like Nikos, she claims another woman’s child as her own. She lives with this terrible lie throughout the rest of the story.

As the story progresses, the lives of her daughter she raised and the one she gave away are intermingled in a way she never imagined. The story follows both girls into adulthood, through shared loves and the building of careers. Rose, the daughter Sylvie gave away, lives most of her life filling unloved and unwanted by the family she was raised with. Rachel, on the other hand is raised by Sylvie and her husband Gerald, in a privileged life style.

When Gerald, Sylvie’s husband dies, Rachel, who has just been through a horrible relationship, decides to go to Vietnam to serve as a civilian doctor. Events unfold, which ties these two women together. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give anything away.

This is a story about the love of a woman for her husband, the love of a mother for her daughter and how the decision Sylvie made in 1943 effects and colors so many lives. This is a book that you’ll cry through and laugh with. Your heart will be touched and torn with loyalties for all the main characters. This is a story that will linger in my mind for a long time. The good news is that there is a sequel, and I can’t wait to read it. I highly recommend this deeply passionate story. If it were possible to give it a higher rating than 5 stars, I would have rated this a 10. 

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