The Midsummer Garden, by Kirsty Manning

It was an odd engagement present. Heirloom or not, such gifts were not usually covered in grime and dust. Pip sneezed as she started unpacking four boxes of antique French pots: copper boilers, streaked and mottled with watermarks, so when the soft morning light reflected off the pots and hit the white walls of the tiny worker’s cottage, they rippled with rainbows. Some of the pots were so large Pip had to brace herself to lift them out of the boxes. When she pulled off the lids, their blackened insides were etched and lined with age.

When she moves in to a tiny workers cottage with her fiance, Jack, Pip really doesn’t have room for the set of large copper pots her parents send as an engagement gift, but she is determined to have them on display. They bear memories of her childhood and a deeper connection Pip doesn’t completely understand. but the warmth of the copper pots might not be enough to keep Pip’s plans on track. She wants to get her PhD project finished before she and Jack get married and travel, but Jack is impatient, and wants everything to happen now.

In 1427, Artemisia, the cook at the Chateau de Boschaud also has copper pots. she is busy preparing the dishes, the settings, even the special bathing waters for the Lord and his bride. It is tough work, but it is made easier by Artemisia’s secret. this will be her last day at the chateau: soon she will be free and ready to build a new life.

The stories of Pip and Artemisia are separate, yet there are connections across the many centuries between their lives, and Artemisia’s vast knowledge of herbs cooking are not only reflected in Pip’s interests, but are even shared through treasured finds. Readers will want to trace the adventures of each, o find out whether happiness is possible for either, or for both.

The Midsummer Garden is a satisfying blend of contemporary and historical fiction, with each story compelling and well wrought, and the links between the two intriguing. Themes of happiness, of family lore, relationships and self fulfillment are explored and food lovers will enjoy the culinary detail.

The Midsummer Garden, by Kirsty Manning
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760294748

The Love Oracles: Nymph, by Tonya Alexandra

Prometheus’s mouth stretch into a long frown. “I do not seek your permission, niece. I promised your father I would watch over you in his absence and I’m afraid I haven’t done a good job of it so far. It is both my formal duty and my personal desire to see to this matter.” His eyes were soft. “If, that is, you trust me enough to represent you…”
“Uncle, of course!” Merope cried. “I only worry Zeus will punish you as a result.”
“Zeus we can manage, love,” Prometheus replied. “I can’t promise the same with Orion though. That half-god is unpredictable.” He took her by the shoulders. “I’m afraid, Merope, you’ve made yourself a very dangerous foe.”

As a nymph, it is unthought of that Merope would reject an approach from Orion, but that is exactly what she has done, though she knows there will be consequences. Banished to earth under the guardianship of her uncle, Prometheus, Merope must learn to live amongst humans. This is hard – humans have funny ways – but she must try to fit in. When she meets Lukas, a human teen, she starts to feel like she’s never felt before. But love between a goddess and a mortal is forbidden, and Merope soon realises she has attracted the wrath of the gods.

Nymph is an intriguing young adult read, set chiefly on an idyllic Greek island, as well as within the heavens. Drawing on Greek mythology, blended with contemporary romance, the story will intrigue those with an interest in mythology, or serve to entice the reader to learn more.

The first in The Love Oracles series, Nymph is suitable for teen readers as well as adults.


Nymph (Love Oracles)

Nymph, by Tonya Alexandra
Walker Books, 2014
ISBN 9781922077240

Available from good bookstores and online.