The Last Camellia: A Novel
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"Terrific … compelling … an intoxicating blend of mystery, history and romance, this book is hard to put down." --Real Simple
On the eve of the Second World War, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.
More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?
Fans of Downton Abbey should rush to pick up this novel.
the housekeeper—she’s in on something. Maybe she has a thing for the Lord?” “Maybe,” I said. “There might be others, too. Like the children in the nursery. The other household staff.” I eyed the copy of The Years I’d left on the side table. “And then there’s Flora.” Rex looked momentarily confused. “Flora?” “Yeah,” I said. “I found her name right here in this book.” “Who is she?” Rex asked. “I don’t know. But I’d like to find out.” “Me too,” he said, turning back to his notebook. I heard a
look, and I saw a book resting atop a lace cloth. Larger than a diary, it appeared to be a scrapbook or album of some sort, with various items tucked inside. I turned to the first page and squinted to read the handwritten inscription: “The Camellias of Livingston Manor; Compiled by Anna Livingston.” My eyes widened. Inside were dozens of pressed blossoms. Faded and paper-thin, each had been glued to its own page alongside handwritten accounts of the date and origin, with detailed planting and
to leave. And I couldn’t take any chances with Sean lurking. “No,” I said. “I think I’ll stay here and go through the camellia book again. “I feel like there’s something we must have missed in the orchard. Some clue.” “All right,” he said. “I’ll be back tomorrow, and then we can lay it all out together. The more we learn, the more I realize that there’s a novel brewing here.” He slung his bag over his shoulder, and I remembered the file marked “Amanda” inside. I hadn’t asked him about it.
manor would always be untouched by time. Years could pass. Mortar could crumble. Stone could crack in jagged lines. But it would, more or less, remain the same. He eyed a pair of wood pigeons pecking at one of the house’s cornices. “All these years,” he said. “I didn’t think the old house would have this effect on me. The bird calls still sound as lonely as I felt back then.” “You might be interested to know that the place will be changing a bit soon,” I said. “My in-laws have a remodel in
“These are names with marital longevity.” “Right,” I said sarcastically. “Maybe you should take me husbandshopping at a retirement home.” Annabelle is tall and thin and beautiful—Julia Roberts beautiful, with her long, wavy dark hair, porcelain skin, and intense dark eyes. At thirty-three she had never been married. The reason, she’d tell you, was jazz. She couldn’t find a man who liked Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock as much as she did. She waved for the waiter. “We’ll take two more, please.”