Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: The Art of Inheriting Secrets

By Lynn Willoughby

The Art of Inheriting Secrets ~ Barbara O’Neal

Olivia Shaw is the editor for a food magazine. She lives in San Francisco and leads a full life, but when her mother dies she learns she has inherited a centuries old estate in England. Oh yes, and a title. She is now the Countess of Rosemere Priory.

Olivia travels to Hertfordshire only to find the estate house falling down in disrepair. The caretakers have not been taking care of anything and have absconded with a great deal of money, the tenant farmers are not happy and Olivia certainly doesn’t know how to be a Countess. However, she sees now that the manor and the surrounding gardens were often the subjects of her mother’s paintings. The neglected rose garden, the  now scummy pond, the conservatory and the ancient stained glass window in the great hall – all reek of her mother and her art.

As Olivia settles into the village and begins to meet some of the locals – a bakery owner and the woman who owns the restaurant “Coriander”, Olivia bonds with some kindred spirits. She writes some articles for her food magazine based on her experiences in the village – the miracle of English strawberries, her ecstasy eating fresh picked asparagus. Of course there is a love story, a missing uncle and the mystery of why her mother abandoned her home and never, ever spoke of it. There is a fire, there are so many decisions to be made about selling the manor or restoring it’s beauty.

I liked this book. It is a great summer read – not too heavy, but full of secrets, garden treasures and food stories.

– The Lost Recipe for Happiness- When We Believed in Mermaidsand several others

Who Knew?

A monastery’s infirmary herb garden grew specialized plants that were used in medieval medicine to help the body heal itself. The nine plants in every monastic infirmary garden were sage, betony, clary sage, hyssop, rue, chamomile, dill, cumin and comfrey.

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