My review of The Beast's Garden by Kate Forsyth

It's August 1939 in Germany, and Ava's world is in turmoil. To save her father, she must marry a young Nazi officer, Leo von Lowenstein, who works for Hitler's spy chief in Berlin. However, she hates and fears the brutal Nazi regime, and finds herself compelled to stand against it.

Ava joins an underground resistance movement that seeks to help victims survive the horrors of the German war machine. But she must live a double life, hiding her true feelings from her husband, even as she falls in love with him.

Gradually she comes to realise that Leo is part of  a dangerous conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. As Berlin is bombed into ruins, the Gestapo ruthlessly hunt down all resistance, and Ava finds herself living hand-to-mouth in the rubble of the shell-shocked city. Both her life and leo's hang in the balance.

Filled with danger, intrigue and romance, The Beast's Garden, a retelling of the Grimm brothers' 'Beauty and the Beast', is a beautiful, compelling love story set in a time when the world seemed on the brink of collapse.

Paperback, 512 pages
Published August 3rd 2015 by Random House Australia 
ISBN13 -9780857980403

The Sonnets To Orpheus: Book 2: XIII by Rainer Maria Rilke
 Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it all will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice-more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be-and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

I just have to share with you some of my favorite bits of phrases written by Kate Forsyth that just touched me and stood out for the sheer beauty of the words:

It was winter. The sound of smashing glass woke her. Ava sat up, still half in the shadowlands of sleep, thinking: It's just a nightmare.

Ava stumbled to a nearby tree and clung on to its trunk. He strode off through the chiaroscuro of flame and shadow, pulling his pistol from his holster...

The setting of The Beast's Garden is war torn World War II Germany, so thoroughly researched, beautifully written, that you feel as if you were there with Ava and Leo. For they are the Beauty and the Beast based, themed, characters in this disillusioned love story. The skill of Kate Forsyth's writing is that the reader becomes so enthralled in the gorgeous storyline they become almost empathetic with Leo and Ava's plight in her feelings for him. The reader doesn't necessarily need a full comprehension of the history of World War II, Adolf Hitler or even his SS men. The basics are layed out here. I found myself really wanting to google some of the musicians, poetry, operas included to help set the plot and scene of The Beast's Garden. I love it when a writer piques my curiousity to learn more. 

In true form, Kate Forsyth once again enlists help from the Grimm Brothers and their fairytales. For instance, 'The Singing, Springing Lark (1819) is included within this story but you wouldn't recognize its usage unless you are familiar with the tale. 

What I really enjoyed and impressed me was the fact that the love story is not a happy ending, everyone lives happily ever after, and all is wrapped up at the end with a big red bow!  This is a war story as well so there will be violence, and death. The reality of war is very intelligently written and the fairy tale aspect drives the action quite well. 

This is the third novel that I have read by Kate Forsyth, the first two being, The Wild Girl and Bitter Greens. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Her writing style is superb. She beautifully crafts a story and her research is impressively included to support the plot.  I cannot wait for her next novel! 

The Beast's Garden can be purchased,  Random House Australia
Once it has a UK publication and a US publication, I will follow-up.


Kevin Marsh said…
Hello Kimberly,

This book sounds interesting.
A beautifully written review.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Kevin,

Thank you so much for stopping by and your lovely comments about my review.