Charlie Murphy and Lillie Whitman are surrounded by the innocence of young love, and the guileless early twentieth century. They fall deeper into each other, intertwining their very different worlds to create a bond that no one can break. 

Or so they thought. 

When the dawn of World War I comes to their Long Island town, and personal tragedies begin to spiral the lovers into an abyss of darkness, they must fight to hold on to their love. Knowing their bond will be the only ties that will get them through. From the horrors of Germany's front lines to the emotional battle fields fought at home, Charlie and Lillie must find a way to stay strong, and navigate a path, back into each other’s arms. And how a garden, a very special garden, can withstand the coldest of winters and give the ultimate symbol of hope. 

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Roger DeBlanck's review 

Oct 23, 2016

 

it wasVicki-Ann Bush's historical novel will warm your heart and keep your pulse racing until the end. The story is a memorable romance, but it also does a fine job of portraying the adversity of everyday life in the early decades of the 20th century and of capturing the harrowing aspects of combat during World War I.

Charlie Murphy finds life's hardships mounting when his mother suffers a stroke on the heels of his father's passing. Fortunately, he lands a secure job with Mr. Whitman's construction company. The promise of steady pay is made sweeter when he develops feelings for Whitman's lovely daughter, Lillie. She too is smitten with the good-looking and hard-working Charlie. When Lillie pursues her dream of going off to college at Princeton, the couple must deal with their first separation. To compound matters, the war in Europe looms ominously, just as Charlie's talents as a furniture designer take off.

The novel nicely charts the relationships of several couples, but it's the tender bond between Lillie and Charlie that nearly breaks your heart. Charlie's call to duty pulls him into enlisting. Once on the battlefield of Western Europe, the terrifying experiences of the war change him forever. Ms. Bush's visceral descriptions truly capture the stark reality of trench warfare and the horrifying effects of mustard and phosgene gas. With sensitivity and compassion, she addresses the psychological trauma of "shell-shock" that haunted the minds of so many soldiers. 

The novel also takes the time to include elements that address the women's rights movement and issues of acceptance for the gay community. Whether she is describing the "fire thorns" of the garden at Lillie's house or the furniture Charlie is carving, Ms. Bush has a delicate touch with lovely images. The Garden of Two is a page-turning romance rooted in an era that is brought vividly to life by the excellent research and writing of Vicki-Ann Bush.