Set during the First World War, The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowden is a novel about a young woman finding love, experiencing loss and ultimately finding her place in the world.
Emily Bryce is eagerly awaiting her 21st birthday so that she can take charge of her life as an adult and contribute towards the war effort against her parents’ wishes. Emily’s plan to become a nurse is shattered when she learns that the army is no longer taking on untrained nurses, but determined to do something she signs up as a recruit for the Land Army.
I absolutely loved this book, it’s quite gentle but it delivers a strong narrative and character that drives the story and keeps you reading. Throughout the book you are completely connected to Emily and understand why she makes the decisions that she does, despite her world being so different to the one we live in today.
If you are looking for a light read that manages to deliver little bits of romance, mystery, tragedy and joy I recommend that you give The Victory Garden a try.
Excerpt from The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowden
“You like roses, do you, Flight Lieutenant?” Emily asked.
“I was thinking of my mother. She tries to grow flowers, especially roses, but she never quite succeeds. Where we live, there’s only about six inches of rain a year. Not enough for a proper garden, but she keeps on trying. If she could only see this, I bet she’d just break down and cry.”
“Where do you live exactly?” Emily asked.
“What we’d call Back of Burke,” he said, “meaning the outback. Middle of nowhere. The far western part of New South Wales. The closest town is Tibooburra, and that’s not much of a place.”
“And what does your family do out there?” She realized she was sounding like her mother.
“We’re farmers.” “Farmers? How can you farm with so little rain?” He grinned.
“We run sheep.”
“Sheep? Sheep can exist with no grass?”
“There’s a little grass. Not green like this around here, but enough to keep a sheep alive. We can only run about one sheep per acre though.”
“One sheep per acre?” Emily tried to grasp this.
“Then how many sheep do you have?” He frowned, thinking.
“I’m not quite sure. Maybe twenty thousand or so.”
“Twenty thousand? Then you have twenty thousand acres?”
“More than that. We have land that’s not much good for anything as well.”
“You must be miles from your nearest neighbour then.”
“Fifty miles?” He nodded, grinning at her incredulous face.
“Isn’t it terribly lonely? What happens if you have a medical emergency?”
“We take care of it, or we die. You have to be pretty self-sufficient if you live like us.”
Books similar to The Victory Garden
If you are a looking for a story set in World War I with a female protagonist try Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel.
The Victory Garden Audiobook
This book is also available with audio narration by Saskia Maarleveld on Audible and Whispersync on Kindle.