Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!


The Victory Garden

The Secret Garden for adults. That is exactly what The Victory Garden feels like. Set during WWI, The Victory Garden is full of mystery and intrigue with just enough of history thrown in for good measure.

Emily Bryce, to be perfectly honest, is probably feeling a bit bored. Following her mother to visit the wounded soldiers isn’t necessarily how she would like to spend the entire war. Especially not when her best friend is really serving. Then, just as they are planning a magnificent 21st birthday, she happens upon one of the invalid soldiers admiring her family’s gardens.

She and Robbie hit it off right away, and before long they are making plans to get married and join Robbie’s family in Australia. But if you think that this is merely a romance set in WWI (have no fear those will never appear here), wait!

Robbie is soon being sent back to the front, making Emily yearn all that much more to do her own part. So, despite threats of disownment from her parents, she joins the Land Girls. The work his hard, but Emily nonetheless finds herself enjoying the challenge. She particularly enjoys her assignment of keeping the gardens on a widow’s estate.

But before too much longer, more and more tragic news hits Emily. As the war wraps up, Emily finds that she has no place to go. Except, well, except maybe returning to the little cottage and to the widow’s gardens. With two dear friends from Land Girls with her, she heads out to make a life of her own, her Land Girls skills at the ready. And it’s here that Emily takes comfort in the old journal she has discovered. Through it she learns the story of not one, but two former tenants. Their stories are as tragic as her’s, and its because of this that she finds a sense of connection. She learns to cultivate the gardens and to use the many flowers and herbs as medicines, which comes to the aid of the villagers on more than one occasion. But as the past of the garden comes to haunt her, she also finds family in many different places.

The Victory Garden, yes, does have some romance. But it also tells the story of a privileged girl who is willing to throw everything away to serve her country, even when she thinks that means she has no family whatsoever to turn to in times of crises. It also tells the story of the garden. The Garden becomes a place of mystery and refuge and escape for Emily Bryce, much as it did for Mary Lennox.

Genre: Historical Mystery

Classification: Adult

Era: WWI

Goodreads: The Victory Garden


Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!
Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!

An Irish Country Series

A series post, this one takes place in a tiny little Northern Ireland town called Ballybucklebo (fictional, of course) in the 1960s. The series tells the story of two country doctors. One, Dr. Fingal O’Reilly and Dr. Barry Laverty and their many exploits, not just as doctors, but as two men who feel that given their position, they should not just take care of their patients’ medical needs, but any crisis that may arise throughout the town. And with this eccentric group of residents, anything and everything is possible!

Covering 13 books (thus far), An Irish Country Series covers the vast majority of the chaotic ‘60s, reminding characters and readers alike the many great things about rural Ireland: The history, the beauty, the togetherness. And even as the Irish Civil Rights comes along, dividing people because of their religion, the people of Ballybucklebo promise themselves that they will never let their differing religions divide them. And they hold true to their promise. In every single novel, the people of Ballybucklebo band together to help each other, no problem is too big too small or too unusual for the residents of this small town.

Already hooked?

Well, Patrick Taylor decided not to limit himself to the goings-on of the residents of Ballybucklebo in the 1960s. No, he chose to take on the history of Fingal O’Reilly. And, as a result, readers enjoy a culmination of 1960’s & O’Reilly history in not just one but 5 stories: A Dublin Student Doctor (6); Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor (8); Home Is the Sailor (8.5); An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War (9); and The Wily O’Reilly (9.5). In these stories, you get to follow O’Reilly through medical school days and residency days during the Depression, his days in the Navy during WWII, as well as is early days in Ballybucklebo (aka Pre-Barry). These are probably the best in the series.

But that being said, An Irish Country Series is very likely one of my absolute favorite series. It makes one nostalgic for the easier days of times gone past and the nostalgic lifestyle of Ireland. One wants to live in Ballybucklebo with Fingal, Barry, and everyone else. Truly, I cannot say enough good things about this series. It hooks you. You celebrate and you mourn with every character. And better yet, you watch these characters grow as the series continues. Characters you may not like in the beginning, you grow to love as times go on. I cannot recommend it enough. It is a serious must read.

Note: There are descriptions of medical procedures as well as descriptions of slums and war.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Classification: Adult

Setting: Europe (Ireland)

Era: 1960s (predominately)

Goodreads: An Irish Country Series

Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!
Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!

Bess Crawford Series

I moved posts around some to ensure The Unknowns was featured on November 11. And to fill it’s place, I have another WWI Centennial post. The Bess Crawford series.


Bess Crawford, the daughter of a very highly thought of Colonel, was brought up India while her father was there on assignment. She was also brought up believing one most always do his or her part for their country. Which is why, once WWI breaks out across Europe, she does a very noble thing: She joins the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). Bess serves for some time on the Britannic. But, after it sinks, Bess suddenly finds herself in the bloody fields of France, right on the front lines, working overtime to save the lives of the boys overseas. But to Bess Crawford, daughter of a British Colonel, duty does not end with treating the men’s wounds. No, for Bess, this means repairing their lives in any way she possible can. And, usually, this means travelling throughout Europe with her father’s trustworthy said, Simon, to solve one mystery or another.

Essentially, the Bess Crawford series shows the epitome of WWI-era women wanting to play their part in the war. For the first time, women found themselves on the front lines, and for the first time, they found that they, too, could make a difference and play a role.

For Bess, this particularly means caring for the injured men on the front – and in some cases, this means the same men wander through the pages of every book. And time and again, her reasoning is that it’s “my duty” to England, to her father, to the army, to those back home, to the men who are fighting, and to the men who have died.

The stories take part on the front lines, in the hospitals with Bess (which, to be honest, can be gory and dark), but they also follow Bess around England and France as she solves one mystery after another, all to make just one man’s life a little bit better (yes, there are different characters in each book). Bess does show that women can play a vital role in war.

So, if you like mysteries – particularly historical mysteries, then this is the series for you. If you want a well-written series of stories set during WWI, or better yet, a series about a strong women in WWI, then this is the series for you. Though, like I said, fair warning, her descriptions about the field hospitals are dark and gory, but they are not the main setting . . . only part.

At the moment, there are 10 novels & 3 short stories. And, yes, they continue all the way through WWI (it ends in book #9).

Genre: Historical Fiction (Mysteries)

Classification: Adult

Setting: England (mainly England & France)

Era: WWI

Goodreads: Bess Crawford


Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!