Book Review: The Winter Garden


book cover for The Winter Garden

Alexandra Bell weaves a tale of magic and enchantment in “The Winter Garden“.

“The Winter Garden” book review and synopsis

Beatrice and Rosa 

When Beatrice loses her mother at a young age, she receives an invitation to The Winter Garden – an enchanted garden ruled by The Spider Queen. It is only accessible to people in their darkest moments. No one really believes that it’s real – except perhaps the gardener’s son, James.  

As an adult, she dedicates her life to finding the garden and the magic within it again. 

It’s not the life others have planned for her though – as Lady of Half Moon House, she’s expected to marry well and become a mother. Her obsession with the natural world is . . . most “unnatural”. 

Beatrice has never had many friends, only her strange apple trees and Rosa. Despite the differences of their personalities, the women bond over their shared experience of not fitting in with their peers. 

Rosa is an entrepreneur from humble origins. Her talent for engineering intricate clockwork creatures is unmatched. Since childhood, though, her dream has always been to marry into old money. Coming from new money, she wants to be seen as equal to the titled families of England. She wants her fairytale prince and a family to follow. 

Can her dreams become a reality? Will it be all she ever hoped for? 

A surprising direction

While this book is filled with whimsical and enchanting moments, it doesn’t shy away from the darker side of things. In fact, Alexandra Bell dives into it, taking the story in a surprising direction. It has much more depth than I’d first expected it to have.

The characters are anything but perfect – they’re flawed and they make ill-advised decisions that had me pleading silently with them to reconsider.  

Through them, we see how the pursuit of a dream can turn into an unhealthy obsession and how much someone might be willing to sacrifice to achieve it. 

A book for January

It’s a great book to read at this time of year. While it spans many years, most of the events take place in the winter time, and it ends on New Year’s Eve. It’s not a Christmas book either, which makes it perfect for injecting a little magic into cold and dark January evenings. 

I’ve seen it described in the same breath as “The Night Circus” and “Midnight In Everwood”, so if you enjoyed those, you might just enjoy this one, too. 

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.