Julia discusses her latest book The Last Garden in England, the pros and cons of choosing a popular topic like gardening to write about, the importance of creating a strong sense of place, and recruiting her father to help her research English gardens.

Julia discusses her latest book The Last Garden in England, the pros and cons of choosing a popular topic like gardening to write about, the importance of creating a strong sense of place, recruiting her father to help her research English gardens, writing a story set in three time periods, and much more.

The Last Garden in England can be purchased at Murder by the Book. 

Julia’s 4 recommended reads are:

  1. Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
  2. The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
  3. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  4. The Kew Garden Girls by Posy Lovell

Thanks to Densie Webb for sponsoring this episode. Her novel When Robins Appear can be purchased here.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction and want to listen to more episodes like this one, try Hazel Gaynor, Judithe Little, Susie Orman Schnall, Kristin Harmel, and Sadeqa Johnson.



garden, book, stories, people, gardens, fun, house, war, women, read, thought, home, Julia, write, research, writing, bit, plants, England, author


Cindy Burnett, Julia Kelly


Cindy Burnett  00:01

This episode is sponsored by Densie Webb's novel When Robins Appear which is available now, and the link is in the show notes. When Robins Appear tells the story of young love, past love, keeping secrets and the agonizing decisions women may be forced to make about forming families. And how they all come together to impact the Earle family, Deb, Richard and their teenage daughter Amanda. In the end, it's about how a crisis can challenge even the most loving families and how they are sometimes able to recreate themselves, even when the result is bittersweet. You can purchase When Robins Appear wherever books are sold. This is the Thoughts from a Page Podcast where I interview authors about their latest works. My name is Cindy Burnett, and I love to talk about books. If you have any comments, questions you want me to ask authors or feedback for me, feel free to contact me through my website thoughtsfromapage.com. If you enjoy these podcast episodes, you should check out the literary salon tab on my website and sign up for our newsletter. We are hosting some fabulous online events in 2021. Today I am interviewing Julia Kelly. Julia is the international bestselling author of historical women's fiction books about the extraordinary stories of the past. Her books have been translated into 11 languages. She has also written historical romance as well as fast-paced contemporary sports romance under the name Julia Blake. In addition to writing, she's been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and for one summer, a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa and New York City home before settling in London. I hope you enjoy the interview. Welcome, Julia. I'm so excited to talk with you about The Last Garden in England. How are you today?


Julia Kelly  01:55

I'm doing very well. Thank you so much for having me on.


Cindy Burnett  01:58

Oh, of course. Well, I read this book in less than 24 hours. I just thought it was an amazing read, and I'm super excited to talk about it. So why don't we start out with you just telling us a little bit about it.


Julia Kelly  02:09

Sure. So it's a historical novel set in three different time periods, and the thing that connects the stories with those times is a historic garden. So you start in 1907 with the gardens design done by a woman named Venetia Smith in the Edwardian era. And then it moves to the garden's history in 1944 during World War Two. This is set in England so the house is requisitioned to be used as a convalescent hospital for soldiers during the war. And so we follow three women who are all tied to the house and the garden during that period of time. And then when we find the garden in present day, there is a another garden designer who's actually coming in and taking a look at restoring the garden because it's been abandoned for many years. It's really in a state of real sort of chaos and decay. But she sees real possibility here. And throughout those three storylines which weave back and forth, we learn about some family secrets, some mysteries, which I always love writing into my books, and the five women, their stories all become sort of intertwined and connected together.


Cindy Burnett  03:17

How did you decide to write about English gardens?


Julia Kelly  03:20

Well, it's funny, I think this book is very much in some ways, my father's book, because he is a fantastic gardener in his own right. I live in England now. But I grew up in Los Angeles, and my father is from Los Angeles as well. He married my mother who's an English woman. And I think he's always had a love for all things English, including gardens. So when I was growing up, we always had a really beautiful garden. And we would go on trips and part of going back to see my mother's family would be partially for that. And then partially we would travel around England. And I just saw these incredibly beautiful English gardens, including one when I was a child that I ended up actually going back to and revisiting for the research in this book. It's called Hidcote. And I just have always loved that style of garden, the sort of English borders with loose beautiful flowers. And I just feel very comfortable in gardens. So I think in some ways I was drawn to it by that and my connection to my dad's side of the story. And I always am interested in sort of how we can talk back and forth to the past through history. So I thought that a garden as an anchoring point for a book would be a really fun idea to explore, and would also give me a lot of opportunities to have a lot of different women interacting across their own time periods, and then also their own history influencing each other.


Cindy Burnett  04:41

You must have had to do a lot of research. Did you?


Julia Kelly  04:44

I did. So I have to admit I don't actually have a garden of my own right now although I will by the time that this book comes out. I will be moving into a brand new home, and I will have my first garden just shortly after this book releases. So I'm very excited. It's going to be a really new experience getting to actually put into play some of the things that I've helped my dad with over the years. When you're the child of somebody who loves to garden, it's free labor. So I've been recruited quite a lot. I've dug a lot of irrigation ditches over the years and done a lot of planting. But part of what was so fun about this was I got to really create my own dream garden. And I actually went through and one of the first things I did was I drew, I'm not an artist, but I drew the gardens at Highbury House, and the gardens are all constructed around the idea of garden rooms. So each room has a different theme. And the plantings are different. And I got to have a lot of fun going in and sort of deciding if I had an English estate, what would I want it to look like. And what would I want the garden to feel like and so that really became that garden. So maybe one day, one day, if I have a house big enough, or a garden big enough, I'll be able to recreate even part of that. But it was a lot of fun. And it did require a lot of research. And the really nerdy parts of it also required a lot of research into sort of were plants available in 1907 in England. So these are the sorts of things that historical authors can just absolutely lose themselves in. And it's a little bit like a funnel, right? You, you research a whole bunch of things, and then you hope that a little bit of it ends up in the book and it stands out to somebody so it's worth it in the end. But you do get very nerdy sometimes.


Cindy Burnett  06:24

Well, I loved all of that detail. And I felt like I learned so much. One thing I was so curious about was the various gardens. Were there a set number, I can't remember exactly how many different gardens there were at Highbury House, but were there a certain number of gardens and every place did them? Or did you just sort of create it based kind of on like you said, like the Rose Garden and the Bridal Garden and how does all that work?


Julia Kelly  06:47

The gardens are really, the themes are really a collection of a lot of different things. So for instance, the Bridal Garden is influenced by the White Garden at Sissinghurst and the Red Garden at Hidcote Manor, which I visited for research is the model for the Lovers' Garden. But then when you're an author, at least, my experience has been I'm always putting little touches of things that are important to family members to me. So lavender is one of my mother's favorite flowers so there's a lavender walk. And the whole garden is really constructed around this Winter Garden that's at the center of it. And I love the idea of having one place in the garden where even in the absolute depths of winter, things are vibrant, and they're thriving, and there's flowers and things that you would never would normally expect. And that becomes a really important part of the narrative not only for the plot, but also for the really the emotional heart of the story as well.


Cindy Burnett  07:41

That had to be so fun. I think that is one of the things that I liked so much about the book was that you brought it all to life so vividly that I felt like I was walking through whichever garden it was we were in at the time. And I just love books that have such a strong sense of place.


Julia Kelly  07:55

Oh, thank you so much. And I'm so glad to hear that too. Because I think my poor copy editor and I went back and forth so many times about do you turn righ or do you turn left out of this garden? And where are these things so really that, that map ended up being very handy. So I'm glad to hear it translated well on the page.


Cindy Burnett  08:11

Well, and it all just sounds so beautiful. It's one of those things that seems like it would go to the screen so well; it'd be fun to actually see it all brought to life.


Julia Kelly  08:18

I would love that I'm not gonna lie. And I think with any author, it's really fun to think about what would it potentially look like on the screen? And I think with this book being so visual, because flowers and plants and trees are so visual, it was really fun to think, Okay, what would it actually look like if I were watching it on a screen? Or if I were standing in the middle of that garden? What do I want to convey? To give people that sense of what it would like to be like to actually be there.


Cindy Burnett  08:43

Well, you did that very well.


Julia Kelly  08:45

Thank you.


Cindy Burnett  08:46

The other thing I was curious about was three timelines. I sometimes think two timelines would be hard enough to write but trying to keep up with three. How was that?


Julia Kelly  08:54

Well, my agent when I pitched her the story just started laughing. Because it's saying that I'm always trying to raise the level of difficulty. I've done two timelines before. I really wanted to try to challenge myself and see if I could go from the beginning of this garden's life, the middle section during the war during all this conflict, and then the revival of the garden and the real rebirth of it. And I really, I really liked that idea. And then weaving five different perspectives and trying to make the voices very distinct. I think it's always fun as a writer to jump into something kind of feet first, and not entirely sure how to tackle it, but just to go ahead and do it. So I actually wrote these almost like they were their own individual books, and then wove them together afterwards and kind of did the work to bring them all together. So I wrote the 1907 story first, then I wrote 1944, and then I wrote present day because they all sort of build on each other's history. And then went through and I've since moved to a digital version of this but I had all these sticky notes on the wall, in my flat on the kitchen wall and my family walked in and said this looks like the murder board in a Criminal Mind or a CSI. What are you doing with the only way that I could keep it straight was to have all these sticky notes in different colors. And then it became a lot easier, obviously, once the characters were developed, and they have their own personalities to actually go through and work in in the fine tuning. But when you're trying to get a book down the first time, at least my experience has been with all the books I've done, I just get in. I don't edit. I just try to write and holding that many stories in my head. At the same time, I definitely needed the assist of the sticky notes and the murder wall.


Cindy Burnett  10:31

(laughs) I love that you can just call it the murder wall from now on. Well, that makes sense though writing one at a time because it's so many time periods, and then so many people. And I mean, you did it all very well, I could keep up with them no problem. And one of the things I also really liked was that generally when I read a dual timeline, or even a three timeline, I usually have one timeline that I like the best. But I found in this one, I really liked all three. And I really liked all of the women and their stories. And that's hard to do.


Julia Kelly  10:58

Thank you. Well, I have to admit, I also have found in the past, especially before I was writing historical fiction, I've been a reader of it for my entire life. And I also found that I sometimes I gravitate to one timeline more than the others. I really wanted it to feel like they were all fully-fledged stories, no matter where you were in the narrative. And no matter what time period you were in, you felt like these women's stories mattered and that you were excited to come back to them when it was their chapter.


Cindy Burnett  11:26

That's exactly right, no matter whose story was coming up next, I was like, Okay, good. Because when you are reading a dual timeline, and you really like one versus the other, sometimes I tend to kind of skim through the second one, and then you end up missing some important detail. So to really like all three, where you're excited to return to their stories. And the other thing I loved and obviously this is spoiler free, so I'm only going to say that I loved it was the ending. Oh my gosh, all the way around like all of the endings. So I just thought that was very well done. And I didn't see some of it coming, which was fun.


Julia Kelly  11:55

Oh, I'm, I'm always delighted to hear that because obviously I sit with this story for so long. And I'm trying to make sure that, it's a balance, right, because especially when you write mysteries or twists into your stories, you want to make sure that there's enough that you don't feel like it came out of nowhere. But at the same time you want it to be a surprise. So that's always a bit of a balancing act. And I'm so glad to hear that that worked for you.


Cindy Burnett  12:16

Well, it ends up changing your thought process and some of the characters and again, I don't want to say anything that's going to throw anybody off. But you know, in the end, you're like, Okay, now I'm much happier. But I just saw that was very well done, and it made me happy. And when I was looking I read it a while ago when I was looking over it again today, I was like, oh yes! I really liked the sense of place so much all of the characters, and then the way it wrapped up. So it's just a fabulous book.


Julia Kelly  12:39

Oh, thank you so much. It really was a joy to write it. You always go into a book wondering what this one's going to be like, because they all have different personalities. And I've had books that have been an absolute dream to write and no problem at all. And then I have had books that have just been like pulling hair out and worrying and fretting that it's never gonna come together. And it does, it does in the end. And that's where a great editor can really step in and help. But sometimes it really does feel like going into the unknown. So thank you. I'm glad, I'm glad to hear that it worked.


Cindy Burnett  13:09

Absolutely. Well did you have a highlight of writing The Last Garden in England?


Julia Kelly  13:14

It really, not to be too sentimental about it, but it really was getting to sort of lean on my father as a research assistant. And he was so wonderful about it. And I set the book in the county of Warwickshire which is not an area that a lot of people know about, except that it is where Shakespeare's birthplace is, Stratford-upon-Avon. And so I wanted to make sure that there were actual landmarks but also actual gardens that I could work into it. So I've mentioned Hidcote Manor and I went to a place called Kiftsgate Court, which has been gardened by three generations of women actually all in the same family, and it's still open today. And a place called Upton House. I think it was used as an orphanage during the war. But it was also a place with a significant female garden designer who actually went through and, and did the grounds. So it really was a lot of fun to go through and research those places with my dad, and then also to have moments of texting him or calling him and saying, what was that flower that I really liked. I'm really bad at the names. What was it again, and we kind of run through the list and say this one. Oh, great, thanks. Thanks, thanks, tell mom I say hi, and then go back to writing again. So it's always fun to have some sort of familial connection to books. And I've been able to find that in some of my books before, but this was really lovely because gardening is such a labor of love for my father, and he, I think, he really enjoyed getting to help with the research a bit.


Cindy Burnett  14:38

So I bet he was thrilled. I bet he loved getting to play a role in your research.


Julia Kelly  14:43

He sent me back to London after coming up and visiting him and my mother with a stack of research books and I had books on English borders and plants that would be appropriate for this climate. And the thing is when you tackle something like gardening where again, I've been around it for so much of my life, but I don't have an actual garden myself. So my experience is not necessarily as practical as it could be. You really want to get it right. And I know that gardeners are very serious about gardening, and they love what they love. And they can get very deep into the proverbial weeds with things. And so I didn't want to put something in the wrong place in this garden; I didn't want to introduce principles that didn't make sense. So I think I probably over researched and actually, at some point, my editor read the first draft and then said, could we cut back a bit on the garden? And because it's getting a little excessive, you don't need to talk about plant rotation in the kitchen garden. But I think he really enjoyed getting to go through and talk about that. And he's a birder as well. So little bits and pieces of what, you know, animals would be in the garden. And it was just fun to create that world with him. And I think, I hope he appreciated it, because he lived with me asking him questions for about a year about this.


Cindy Burnett  15:54

I'm sure he loved it. I mean, it's a great thing to share, you know, and he gets to participate in you writing your next book, and I hadn't really thought about the types of plants that could be found in timelines in terms of like, what would be around in 1907. What would be around in 1944. That's an interesting thought. I thought you did a great job of explaining when things would bloom and so the way that gardens were laid out, but hadn't even thought about the aspect of making sure you included plants that would have even been there then.


Julia Kelly  16:20

Who knew that so much that we know and we love in terms, even just roses. So there's a whole group of roses called David Austin roses, and they are new developments. And we have so many of them in our own family garden; I couldn't use a single one because they are too new. And so it was, it was kind of fun actually going through and realizing there's, there's a history to absolutely everything, it just is a question of whether you want to dig in and find it. And fortunately, with a lot of these things, there are historic garden websites. And there are also retailers who will tell you when a certain type of plant was first introduced, or first identified, which was very helpful, because again, you just you never want to get that email as an author saying, actually, I read your book, I really liked it, except you got this thing wrong. And even when it's a perfectly innocent mistake, sometimes you just have this moment of I wish I just looked that up.


Cindy Burnett  17:13

Yeah, just spent five more minutes on that particular thing and thought through it. Well, thankfully, gardening is such a popular hobby that there is so much information out there so that that's helpful I'm sure.


Julia Kelly  17:25

Absolutely. I am starting to think about what I would like to potentially write about in the future. And if there is another hobby-based thing, it's going to be something that's popular, because it really, really made my life a lot easier. So I just have to keep mining my own hobbies or my aspirational hobbies.


Cindy Burnett  17:41

Or your parents. (laughs)


Julia Kelly  17:43

I mean, they're a great resource too. So there you go.


Cindy Burnett  17:45

Well, and the other thing we haven't even talked about that you must have spent some time researching too is 1944 in the house being used as a hospital.


Julia Kelly  17:53

Yes. So I think the history of requisition houses in the UK is fascinating. They were originally requisitioned for World War One. And there is again great information on the British Red Cross and all sorts of things. But a lot of these really large houses were used, similar to what you see in Downton Abbey. And I think it's the second season, the house Downton Abbey becomes a hospital. So that actually happened in World War Two as well. But it wasn't just the big houses; it was also smaller places and village houses and, and actually the house that I'm sitting in right now as we record is my parents’ home and it was requisitioned for female officers for the women's Auxiliary Air Force. And so the idea that a lot of these people would, would live with, whether it's officers or you know, a hospital or an orphanage, something significant that the government deemed needed to be housed away from usually London or other major urban areas. These houses would come about, they would come in and set up and there were war orders. And so you had to give your house over. And I think a lot of people very much felt that it was their responsibility to do that. But in some cases, it could also cause a lot of tension. And Diana, the owner of Highbury House in 1944, who's one of the women that that we follow, she has a lot of feelings about the fact that her house has been sort of taken over not just by the government, and not just by the military medical staff, but also by her sister-in-law who comes in to be the Commandant, and basically would have been the person who ran the administrative side of the hospital. And so a lot of her development is kind of reconciling her responsibility in the war, her relationship with her sister-in-law, and then her relationship with her husband who's passed away. And so it's a really, really interesting setting to have somebody going through that, and it also allowed me to bring in Beth, who's a land girl, who's one of the other perspectives in 1944. And then Stella who's the cook who actually can't serve, she's not medically able to serve, but she sort of does things in her own way to contribute to the war effort, and she's still with the house as well. So you get these women in a little bit of a pressure-cooker situation where you have a lot of different people all thrown together in this very artificial setting, which is the, the taking over of this house to become a hospital. So it's one of those common stories for big houses in World War Two. And I think it's, I think it's something that really surprises people, we don't usually think about the fact that you could be ordered to give your home over. And it could be a vital part of war work. So it's, it's an interesting subject to explore.


Cindy Burnett  20:34

It really is. And I was thinking about Downton Abbey right before you mentioned it too just because I think that's probably the most common reference that people are familiar with. But I think like Bletchley Park was that way, right? I mean, there were people living there before that house was chosen for spy work. And then you think of other homes for hospitals. Did most of the people occupies some small portion of the home, and then the rest of the home becomes the hospital or the housing other people, whatever the house is taken over for?


Julia Kelly  20:58

That's right. So usually the family, if they're still living there would be allowed a set of rooms, or a wing or some aspect of the house, and they would have their own staff, and then whoever was coming in would, would also be staffed. So within the book, I kind of talk about putting doctors up in cottages on the grounds and they've got nurses stuffed up in the attic, where the servants would be and all of that, and one of the I think it's the still room becomes a surgery and things like that, so that people really were in every nook and cranny and drawing rooms and ballrooms and dining rooms became soldiers' bedrooms, these long wards where you could have medical beds. So it really was wherever you could put people safely, they would do that and, and yet, you would still have children at home and and families living in these houses. And obviously, usually a lot of the servants would have at that point in time because of conscription been brought in for war work of some form or another. And yeah, it must have made for very strange living quarters, but also really interesting, bringing together of a lot of different people from a lot of different walks of life. So yeah, it's, it's a fascinating thing to write about, because there's so much possibility there as an author.


Cindy Burnett  22:08

Well it's a fascinating thing to read about too, I really enjoyed that part. And then also just the idea that when they leave, your home probably looked nothing like it looked originally. I mean I can remember somewhere reading about some of the damage that happened to some of those homes once people had left. And it'd be kind of disheartening, I think, to have to sort of redo your whole home or be left with the mess without the ability to redo it.


Julia Kelly  22:31

Absolutely. And I wish I could remember the name off the top of my head, but unfortunately, I can't. There is a famous instance of I believe there was a big house being used as an army training facility. And the lads got a little too raucous in their celebrations and part of it burned down. And so the idea that you would have given your home over and thinking, Okay, you know, we'll board up the good furniture, a lot of cases, they would have put sort of false walls up to make sure that they were protecting plasterwork and valuable frescoes and things like that. But there's not much you can do when the place is actually been burned unfortunately. So I think it really depended on who was in your home, how they treated it, and then if you were also on the grounds. Did you get along? And I think some people probably did, and some people very much didn't, and it would have been a very mixed bag.


Cindy Burnett  23:24

It definitely would have been and I think you're right, if you were there, and you would at least be able to voice your concern. And I guess also whoever was in charge of the group that was moving in, that person probably would have a lot of responsibility for what happened with the house and what didn't.


Julia Kelly  23:39

Absolutely. And I think some people would have taken it very much as we are guests in these people's homes, we will behave accordingly. And some were probably a little bit faster and looser with some of the roles.


Cindy Burnett  23:49

Well, and it's war time. Well, how did you come up with the title for this one?


Julia Kelly  23:53

You know, it's funny, I will admit to not being great at titles. So this was a collaboration between I believe, my editor, my agent, and myself. We sent a ton of emails back and forth. I originally wanted to play on the idea of it being a Winter Garden and having sort of that sense of mystery around it. And then I don't remember who it was who said The Last Garden in England, but it just was sort of one of those things where it just clicked, and it was really obvious that that was going to be the title. And I do love it because I I love the idea of something that sort of evokes a time and a bit of a sense of the fact that this is an abandoned garden when we meet it on the first page in present day. And then of course, I had a wonderful cover come together as well, that really kind of tugs at that idea of abandonment and the gardens are taking over and being left to its own devices. And there's a woman with a fabulous red dress on the cover of it also. I've been very, very lucky with the with the excellent fashion on my, my books. So I've been very lucky to have a good collaborative team behind titles because they're hard. They're very, very hard.


Cindy Burnett  24:58

They are hard, and sometimes they really do represent the story and other times they don't. And I just think this one definitely does. And like you said, it kind of harkens to an earlier era. When you read it, you think the last garden, okay? It's got to be something from the past. And then that's kind of what you're dealing with the whole time.


Julia Kelly  25:15

Yes, exactly. I wanted to make sure that you, you knew what you were going to get when you pick this book up. And you know, it's a historical fiction and, and, and all of that. Oh, I think, I think we nailed it.


Cindy Burnett  25:24

I think so too. Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with me?


Julia Kelly  25:28

I am. And I don't know how much I can talk about. But I'm going to break the rules. So I am working, I just turned in the first draft of a book that will come out after The Last Garden in England. And it is without spoiling too much, it's set in the 1950s. And it follows debutantes, so a different world, very different worlds to the one that that I live in right now, and it's been really fun to write because retrospectively, you know that the 50s are going to lead to the 60s and lots of societal change, but then Britain had just come out of austerity. And there's this real sort of sense of something is going on in the air in Britain during that time. So I really, really been enjoying working in that world and researching in the world. And I'm always fascinated by class as well. I think as an American coming into to Britain and living here, class is, is an ever evolving mystery. Just when I think I've got my handle on it, I'm always proved wrong. And, and I think there's always a bit of a misconception that there is no classes in America, I think there definitely is. But it may be manifests itself differently. And when you don't grow up with it. It's really, really interesting. So I think one of the great things about historical fiction is it's a great realm within which you can explore some of these things. And a lot has been written about it a lot of academic work and a lot of popular history too. So it's so much fun to go in and take a look at that. Plus, with this one, I get to write about big dresses and tiaras. And I got a bit of glamour in a year where I was writing during lockdown, it was really a lot of fun to have a bit of an injection of glamour into my, my day to day, shall we say?


Cindy Burnett  27:05

Oh, I bet so. As you're saying that I don't think I know all that much about Britain in the 1950s. You hear so much about obviously both wars and even the period following World War Two. That'll be interesting. I look forward to that one.


Julia Kelly  27:17

Yeah, it's, it's a fascinating, fascinating time period. So if anybody likes The Crown, this is sort of a good a good jumping off point, I hope.


Cindy Burnett  27:26

I can't believe I still have not watched The Crown. And anytime anybody asked me about it, I'm like, I still haven't seen it. And they can't believe it. But I need to. I just haven't ever sat down to kind of start it because I feel like once I started, I'm going to want to watch it all.


Julia Kelly  27:38

It is a problem. It is, it is very bingeable. So I also have to be careful with that, especially if I'm writing a book at the time. I need to be very careful with what I fall down the rabbit hole with because otherwise I'll emerge two weeks later, and my editor will say where have you been?


Cindy Burnett  27:52

Okay, I was busy watching TV.


Julia Kelly  27:54

Exactly. It's research.


Cindy Burnett  27:56

Well, before we wrap up, I would love to hear what you've read recently that you really liked.


Julia Kelly  28:00

Sure. So I'm currently reading a book that actually comes out on the same day as The Last Garden in England. And that is the Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson. So that's a really, really interesting, really compelling story set in the American South for the Civil War. And I've got a couple of others that I finished recently. It's, it's a little funny when I'm in the last push for working on a draft, I don't read that much. But right before that, I was just reading like crazy. So I read The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Hormel, and I just thought that was fabulous. And Kristin is a lovely person and a friend. But you sometimes you read your friends books, and you just think, oh, we can't be friends anymore. You're too good.


Cindy Burnett  28:43

I loved that book so much.


Julia Kelly  28:45

It's wonderful. And I really think this is, this is really interesting, this is really interesting. And then about a third of the way through, I thought this is something really special. And so I really highly recommend that especially if people are interested in World War Two. Kristin writes in France, and so we're in the same time period, but writing about different subjects in different countries. And I just thought she absolutely knocked it out of the park with this book. I just loved it and can't say enough good things about it. Obviously. I also read Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, which I thought was really interesting and again, injected a bit of a bit of glamour and a bit of spookiness into my writing and reading supplement as well. And then The Kew Garden Girls by Posy Lovell, and I have to admit, I think this is out in the US and Canada by the time that this recording comes out, but I think it's also been out in the UK so I might be mixing up my dates. But this is a really fun one because it deals with the women who worked at Kew Gardens, the famous gardens in London, during World War One. So they actually proved that they could do the physical labor that male gardeners would have done but the male gardeners had been sent off to war so not only were they maintaining the gardens they were also going through and producing crops and so parts of the garden were actually used for agriculture. And she very, Posy very smartly ties this together with the suffragette movement at the time too. So it's really a fantastic look at a period of time in history. And if people do love gardens and are enjoying the historical garden aspect, I would highly recommend that book as well. I think that would be a fun one.


Cindy Burnett  30:22

I know it comes out in 2021 here, but I'm not exactly sure when. I have it on NetGalley. So it's on my iPad, but I haven't read it yet. But it looks really good.


Julia Kelly  30:32

If it's not out yet, hopefully it's a preview for people they can keep an eye out for.


Cindy Burnett  30:36

Oh, absolutely. I always think it's fun to look ahead like that. So that's perfect. Well, thank you so much, Julia, for joining me today on the Thoughts from a Page Podcast. I really, really enjoyed speaking with you.


Julia Kelly  30:46

Oh, thank you so much. This has been so much fun, and I always appreciate the opportunity to talk about history and research and, and also books that I love. So thank you.


Cindy Burnett  30:55

Absolutely. Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. If you liked this episode, and I hope you did, please follow me on Instagram and Pinterest at @thoughtsfromapage, tell all of your friends about the podcast and rate it wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you do listen on Apple podcasts, I would greatly appreciate it if you could rate it and review it if you haven't already. It really helps me out. Julia's book can be purchased at Murder by the Book where I work part time, and the link is in the show notes. Thanks to K.P. Regan for the sound editing, thanks to Densie Webb and her book When Robins Appear for sponsoring the episode, and I hope you'll tune in next time.

Julia Kelly Profile Photo

Julia Kelly


Julia Kelly is the international bestselling author of historical women's fiction books about the extraordinary stories of the past. Her books have been translated into 13 languages. She has also written historical romance. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London.