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Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.
1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.
1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.
In this sweeping novel reminiscent of Kate Morton’s The Lake House and Kristin Harmel’s The Room on Rue Amélie, Julia Kelly explores the unexpected connections that cross time and the special places that bring people together forever.
A forgotten diary, a forbidden love affair, a desperate fight to save her country
2017 When Cara Hargreaves discovers a diary from the 1940s, its contents will change her life forever...
1941 When Louise Keene meets dashing RAF pilot, Paul Bolton, she is swept off her feet. Then Paul is sent to war and Louise, defying her mother's wishes, ends up a gunner girl in London.
Watching the pitch-black skies for bombers, Louise finds comfort recording her dreams in her diary. And as Cara reads her words, decades later, she learns that hope can be found even in the darkest of times, she just needs to take a chance...
Discover the story of the remarkable World War Two gunner girls in this entrancing and heartbreaking novel, perfect for fans of Martha Hall Kelly's The Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale.
August, 1939, Britain watches the headlines in fear of another devastating war with Germany and three women must choose between friendship or country.
Socialite Nora is determined to find her place in the Home Office's Air Raid Precautions Department, while matchmaker, Hazel, tries to mask two closely guarded secrets with irrepressible optimism, and German ex-pat Marie worries that she and her family might face imprisonment in an internment camp if war is declared.
When Germany invades Poland and tensions on the home front rise, Marie is labelled an enemy alien, and the three friends find themselves fighting together to keep her free at any cost.
The Whispers of War is a moving and unforgettable tale of the power and strength of friendship in a time of conflict. Perfect for fans of Lilac Girls, A Woman of War and The Secret Orphan.
Praise for Julia Kelly:
'A heartbreaking romance that will grip you from the very beginning' Washington Post
'Kelly deftly balances intrigue with mystery and historical detail in her latest novel... A charming imagining of the historical gunner girls' Kirkus Review
'Kelly weaves an intricate, tender, and convincing tale of war and romance with skill and suspense' Publishers Weekly
Mary Woodward, a young veteran governess, has one job: guiding a young debutante through her first season in high society. And up until now, keeping her fous and avoiding temptation has been easy. But never before has the father of her young charge been as devilishly handsome as the single, wealthy Earl of Asten.... Convinced to risk it all, Mary let's herself enjoy one night of magic at a masked ball in Asten's arms, but will they both regret everything when the Earl learns her true identity?
Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor. As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt...
When Lady Margaret Rawson is caught trying to elope with the thoroughly unsuitable James Lawrence, Lord and Lady Rawson decide it's time to send their daughter away from the temptations of London. The job of delivering the headstrong girl to the family’s isolated Yorkshire estate naturally falls to her governess, Jane Ephram. It should be an easy task, but with the wild Lady Margaret, nothing ever goes according to plan. To make matters worse, Lord Rawson has made it clear that if anything happens to his daughter along the way, Jane will be dismissed without a letter of reference. When Jane finds Lady Margaret’s inn room empty and the charming Lord Nicholas Hollings’s horse missing one morning, she must embark on an adventure of her own with the devilishly handsome baron. Will Jane and Nicholas find Lady Margaret, the scheming Mr. Lawrence, and the missing horse, or will they discover something else entirely?
Lavinia Parkem, the most talented dressmaker in Edinburgh, has never forgotten her first love: Captain Andrew Colter. They were meant to be married years earlier but when Andrew’s ship was wrecked in the Caribbean her parents forced her to marry another.
Andrew may have survived a shipwreck to find fame and fortune at sea, but he never fully healed after Lavinia’s abandonment. Instead, he dedicated himself to the navy—and secret missions for the foreign office. Nearing retirement and back on British soil, he’s given a new assignment—infiltrate the home of a wealthy banker who’s suspected of being behind a plan to assassinate the Prince of Wales. But to do that, Andrew must recruit and turn the woman the banker once wooed: Lavinia Parkem.
Unable to shirk his duties, Andrew begrudgingly uses the influence of successful matchmaker of Edinburgh to convince the now-widowed Lavinia to help him take down his mark. She relents, telling herself that Andrew’s no longer the warm, loving young man she once knew. But the more time she spends with him, the harder it is to pretend there’s no longer any attraction there. And it’s tormenting Andrew that he must ask her to put herself in more and more danger and now, he must decide whether his duty to queen and country is worth risking the life of the woman he never stopped loving.
Only desperation could have driven Caroline Burkett to her brother’s home in Scotland, but desperate is exactly what she is. After suing her former fiancé for breaking their engagement and causing a scandal in the papers, her only hope of starting over is to enlist the help of Edinburgh’s famous matchmaker, Moira Sullivan.
Born to a butler and maid, Jonathan Moray fought hard to find his place in Edinburgh society. Now a powerful newspaperman, he can make or break a person’s reputation with his headlines, but Jonathan knows his success isn’t guaranteed. He needs salacious stories to keep his readers enthralled, and Caroline’s story is just the sort to sell papers in droves.
When Moira introduces Jonathan and Caroline at a salon, Caroline knows the editor is exactly the wrong man to associate with if she wants to find a husband and restore her reputation, but even as another, more suitable suitor begins to court her, she can’t deny the power of her attraction to Jonathan. Now she must ask herself if she’s strong enough to choose between the man who can give her a secure, quiet life, or the one who promises her a passion she’s never known.
An accomplished sculptor with secret ambitions, Ina Duncan has managed to avoid marriage for years until an accidental encounter at a party leaves her near ruin and in need of a husband. Fast. Determined to find a willing husband for Ina, Edinburgh’s most powerful matchmaker, Moira Sullivan, quickly realizes that the solution to Ina’s problem might be right in front of her.
Ina’s best friend, Gavin Barrett, has a secret no one knows: he’s loved her for years. As the second son of a baronet, however, he knows he has little chance with his brilliant, beautiful friend. All that changes when Moira convinces Ina to propose a marriage of convenience to Gavin to save her from ruin. Ina only wants two things from him in return: a vow she can continue to sculpt and a promise they’ll remain in Edinburgh.
After a rocky start, happiness—and maybe passion—seems on the horizon for the newlyweds until a twist of fate bestows the title of Sir Barrett on Gavin and forces him to assume responsibilities he’s never wanted. Forced to mold herself into the perfect baronet’s wife, Ina must choose between her dreams and the man she’s learning to love.
When it’s announced that 1958 will be the last year debutantes are to be presented at court, thousands of eager mothers and hopeful daughters flood the palace with letters seeking the year’s most coveted invitation: a chance for their daughters to curtsey to the young Queen Elizabeth and officially come out into society.
In an effort to appease her traditional mother, aspiring university student Lily Nichols agrees to become a debutante and do the Season, a glittering and grueling string of countless balls and cocktail parties. In doing so, she befriends two very different women: the cool and aloof Leana Hartford whose apparent perfection hides a darker side and the ambitious Katherine Norman who dreams of a career once she helps her parents find their place among the elite.
But the glorious effervescence of the Season evaporates once Lily learns a devastating secret that threatens to destroy her entire family. Faced with a dark past, she’s forced to ask herself what really matters: her family legacy or her own happiness.
With her signature “intricate, tender, and convincing” (Publishers Weekly) storytelling, Julia Kelly weaves an unforgettable tale of female friendship amid the twilight days of Britain’s grand coming out balls.