Book Review: The Beast's Garden by Kate Forsyth

The Beast's Garden
Title: The Beast’s Garden
Author: Kate Forsyth
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Random House Books Australia
Source: Book supplied by Collins Booksellers – Bacchus Marsh
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Author:
Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the award-winning & internationally bestselling author of more than 35 books for both adults and children. Her books for adults include ‘The Wild Girl’, the love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales; ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale; and the bestselling fantasy series ‘Witches of Eileanan’ Her books for children include ‘The Impossible Quest’, ‘The Gypsy Crown’, ‘The Puzzle Ring’, and ‘The Starkin Crown’. Kate has a doctorate in fairytale studies, a Masters of Creative Writing, a Bachelor of Arts in Literature, and is an accredited master storyteller.

About The Book:
The Grimm Brothers published a beautiful version of the Beauty & the Beast tale called ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ in 1819. It combines the well-known story of a daughter who marries a beast in order to save her father with another key fairy tale motif, the search for the lost bridegroom. In ‘The Singing, Springing Lark,’ the daughter grows to love her beast but unwittingly betrays him and he is turned into a dove. She follows the trail of blood and white feathers he leaves behind him for seven years, and, when she loses the trail, seeks help from the sun, the moon, and the four winds. Eventually she battles an evil enchantress and saves her husband, breaking the enchantment and turning him back into a man.

Kate Forsyth retells this German fairy tale as an historical novel set in Germany during the Nazi regime. A young woman marries a Nazi officer in order to save her father, but hates and fears her new husband. Gradually she comes to realise that he is a good man at heart, and part of an underground resistance movement in Berlin called the Red Orchestra. However, her realisation comes too late. She has unwittingly betrayed him, and must find some way to rescue him and smuggle him out of the country before he is killed.

The Red Orchestra was a real-life organisation in Berlin, made up of artists, writers, diplomats and journalists, who passed on intelligence to the American embassy, distributed leaflets encouraging opposition to Hitler, and helped people in danger from the Nazis to escape the country. They were betrayed in 1942, and many of their number were executed.

The Beast’s Garden is a compelling and beautiful love story, filled with drama and intrigue and heartbreak, taking place between 1938 and 1943, in Berlin, Germany.

General Observations:
~Topic of Interest: My parents were the type of people who got me to read books like The Diary of Anne Frank and The Silver Sword as a child, insisted I watch movies such as Schindler’s List and Nuremberg. My father is also a HUGE history enthusiast, which has been very influential. So World War Two is something I naturally know a lot about, however what I loved about this book is the obviously large amount of research involved, apparently Kate Forsyth spent two years researching this and at the end of the novel there’s a full chapter dedicated to the books and various resources Kate Forsyth had used (all authors should do this).

~Multiple View Points: One of this novel’s strengths is that it has multiple view points, after all War affects people in different ways, all the different view points blend together well and create strong realistic characters and great narrative conflict, from my perspective the novel wouldn’t be as interesting as it if it was all from Ava’s point of view. I really enjoyed reading chapters featuring The Red Orchestra

~Earn Your Happy Ending: To a very serious level. Things do work out in the end in a way that’s satisfying and realistic. For once, the romantic sub-plot doesn’t take over the story and it’s a vital part of the narrative. I think it also helps that Ava and Leo are interesting three-dimensional characters.

Overall, please go read it, it’s a great book written by an Australian Author (what more can I say?). Please feel free to leave a World War Two Book Recommendation in the comments.

Recommended Reading List:
~The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

~Hitler’s Daughter by Jackie French

~The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

~Sapphire Skies by Belinda Alexandra

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