The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Lake Union Publishing – February 2019

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  While World War I rages on the European continent, young Emily Bryce is getting restless under the thumb of her over-protective parents in Devonshire. Her best friend Clarissa is serving as a nurse at the front while Emily has been kept at home visiting wounded officers at a local convalescent hospital. There she meets a young rough-around-the-edges Australian pilot and falls in love with him, much to her parents’ chagrin. What’s more, Emily decides to finally set off on her own and contribute to the war effort, becoming a member of the Women’s Land Army, a post her mother finds most unsuitable. (publisher)

My take:  Emily Bryce has led a sheltered life. When she turns 21 she’s determined to do more to help her country which is in the midst of WWI. She joins the Women’s Land Army and learns to work with her hands. She meets a vast array of women who will become more family than acquaintances.

There’s a character who, near the end of the novel, says “We’ve no idea what we can do until we try.”  For me, that was the underlying tone of the novel. It’s a story about people who rose to the occasion. I loved Emily’s spirit and felt her emotional highs and lows throughout the story. She possessed an admirable strength of character.

Rhys Bowen’s novel explores the personal losses experienced during the war, new paths to travel in life, and a bit of a mystery to be solved. I loved learning about the Women’s Land Army. The Victory Garden is a satisfying work of historical fiction that I’m happy to recommend to fans of the genre and Rhys Bowen.

About the author:

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of 40 mystery novels. Her work includes In Farleigh Field and The Tuscan Child, both standalone novels about World War II; the Molly Murphy mysteries, set in 1900s New York City; the Royal Spyness novels, featuring a minor royal in 1930s England; and the Constable Evans mysteries about a police constable in contemporary Wales. Rhys’s works have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and MacAvity awards, and In Farleigh Field was a 2018 Edgar Award nominee and Lefty Award winner. Rhys is a transplanted Brit who now divides her time between California and Arizona. Connect with her at

Praise for Rhys Bowen:

“Rhys Bowen is one of the very best fiction writers of the day. With a deep understanding of the wounded human heart, and an uncanny ability to capture the quiet emotions and the grand scale of war, she rises above her contemporaries.”
Louise Penny, New York Times bestselling author


9 thoughts on “The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

  1. I’ve read plenty of WWII books but very few WWI books and, for that reason alone, this book interests me. I’d like to learn more about the Women’s Land Army too.


  2. Yes, I think this book will be very popular. Rhys Bowen has definitely stepped outside of her series writing lately with several standalone historical books (plus a bit of mystery). Think that many may be her best works and they certainly bring some little known stories to light. Glad you liked it, Mary.


  3. Hi Mary,

    It is good to see, that like myself, you enjoyed reading this book as a highlight of some of the social history of the times.

    I also enjoy reading books which are set in and around the general location to where I live, as it is good to be able to pick out specific locations or physical items and relate your own experiences back to the storyline.

    Rhys has somewhat stepped out of her usual series writing, with three stand alone novels one after the other. This has only made me more determined to become involved in at least one of her mystery series.

    A lovely review, which compliments the recent Q&A conversation I had with Rhys and nicely ties up all the loose ends!

    Happy Reading 🙂

    Yvonne xx


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