Before Christmas our staff were sent off on their holidays with some serious homework – a couple of books to read on the beach! One of these was The Midsummer Garden by Kirsty Manning, which has been receiving rave reviews both inside A&U and from early readers and booksellers who’ve received advance copies. If you can’t wait to read The Midsummer Garden after reading these reviews, check out the opening chapters below and find a chance to win an advance copy at Goodreads.
Author Sally Hepworth was an early reader, and loved it, calling it a “fictional Eat, Pray, Love“:
The Midsummer Garden is an evocative, lyrical tale of the search for identity by two unforgettable women, separated by history. It’s a journey of passion through food, the natural world – and love – towards personal fulfilment. Manning displays her knowledge of gardening, ancient herbs and food as the two story lines intersect and move towards their powerful conclusion. At times I felt I could almost smell the herbs and taste the food as I turned the pages. A fictional Eat Pray Love that all lovers of food and wine will devour.
And this lovely review from a bookseller gives a great overview of the book:
The Midsummer’s Garden by local author Kirsty Manning was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I have read and enjoyed a number of novels set in two eras, most recently The Three Miss Allens by Victoria Purman. This time difference of over 500 years would have been a considerable challenge and is so well researched by Kirsty Manning.
In 2014 we have soon to be married Pip living in Tasmania. She is a PhD student, working part time in a restaurant and has just moved in with her fiancé. They have plans to buy out his parents and take over the family vineyard and wine making business. Artemisia is a servant cook in France in 1487. She is an abandoned orphan rescued by a priest who taught her about medicinal herbs along with reading, writing and arithmetic. She has a secret romance with the local supplier of herbs and spices. Obviously the two women don’t meet, but they share interests and face similar challenges. The first physical link is a set of copper cooking pots in which Pip finds some of Artemisia’s recipes, and later Pip visits a distant relative now living at the chateau where Artemisia worked and lived all those years before.
What makes this historical romance with a modern day twist different from others is the wonderful detail of herbs and recipes that would be of particular appeal to foodies and gardeners. This is certainly a satisfying read, bound to also delight Kate Morton fans as they wait for her next one as this is also full of wonderful descriptions of historical homes, gardens and secrets.
– Natasha Boyd, Book Bonding Bookstore
As noted, it’s a book that focuses on food, cooking and gardening, and these elements have certainly captured the hearts (& stomachs) of our staff:
I loved everything about Kirsty Manning’s lush debut, but especially the delicious descriptions of food in medieval France and Tasmania today – do not read on an empty stomach!’
– Lillian Kovats, National Account Manager
A delicious read for anybody who enjoys food and travel. Beautifully written, The Midsummer Garden takes you on a culinary journey like no other. I could smell the aromas and taste each dish with every page I turned. I absolutely LOVED it!
– Romina Panetta, Senior Cover Designer
From the wild mudflats of Tasmania to the whimsical Chateau de Boschaud, Kirsty Manning weaves together the lives of two vastly fascinating women. With her masterful description, Manning conveys the sights, smells and feel of medieval French cooking with such realism that you can almost picture yourself standing in Artemesia’s garden picking handfuls of sage, sorrel and wormwood.
– Katherine Lam, Digital Sales Co-ordinator
What a myriad of pleasures The Midsummer Garden provides. It’s not only a fabulous romance, but the culinary delights and evocative settings are truly inspiring.
– Christa Munns, Senior Editor
I don’t keep every book you give me but I’m keeping this one and rereading it. Kirsty Manning’s The Midsummer Garden is a yummy novel with mouth-watering descriptions of food and gardens. It provides great insights into womens’ choices and the compromises faced between absorbing work and true love and duty and family. The narrative moves between France 1487 and Tasmania 2014, which works well. People who read cookbooks for fun or have wanderlust and love roaming around Europe will relish this book. I couldn’t put it down. Keep her writing and I’ll be heading to her wine bar SOON.