The Garden House

St. Martin’s. Aug. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781250760265. $27.99. F
This new novel from prolific British author Willett (Starry, Starry Night) is a thought-provoking story about families, generations, secrets, and love. El is 22 when her beloved father dies and she inherits his Dartmoor cottage. She’s just finished university and decides to live in the isolated cottage, going against the wishes of her overbearing mother. The book introduces several perspectives across generations, including El’s peacemaker brother, her father’s old navy and lawyer friends, and Will, the son of her mother’s new husband. Will is kind at El’s father’s funeral and volunteers to help with the emotionally draining task of clearing out her father’s clothes. El can’t seem to think of him as a stepbrother, as they never lived together, and she comes to rely on him when she discovers mysterious coded texts on her father’s phone. El and Will work to find the identity of the mystery texter, which stirs up secrets and undercurrents, as well as their growing romance.
VERDICT For readers who will enjoy an emotionally complex story that asks the question: Who across the generations has the right to find love and be happy?
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