Review: Walk to Paradise Garden by John B. Campbell

Amid the chaos and turmoil of Belgium in the throes of the First World War, a young John David Armitage meets British nurse Evelyne Grenville while contributing to the war effort at the disastrous grounds of the Ypres Salient. The war wages terror, and although John and Evelyne cannot evade its effects they know nothing can stop a truly destined connection. John is the son of a Chicagoan father and a British mother, and Evelyne's demure sensitivity obscures a trove of plaguing secrets: thus, the foundation is set for an engaging and truly epic saga as author John B. Campbell's Walk to Paradise Garden unveils the story of two remarkable characters, their lives, and the legacy they leave behind.

The novel takes John, Evelyne, a colorful cast of characters, and its readers through 1914 and the First World War, to Britain and Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, Chicago in the 1950s, and Madagascar in the 1970s while engaging multiple stories, scenes, and settings in between. John and Evelyne's lives drive them to open an orphanage, an organization which soon takes the form of a living character as its own life and evolution is documented. As John and Evelyne begin to understand the power and purpose of their endeavor, they find themselves rescuing children from the streets and even the frightening grasp of Hitler’s reign of terror. What follows is a life of truly devoted philanthropic pursuits for our hero and heroine, and the result leaves the reader breathless as though they’ve just lived through this stirring and emotional saga themselves.

Walk to Paradise Garden presents an amount of diverse genres, topics and emotions so staggering that it becomes almost impossible to classify it. It’s at once a period drama, a sweeping romance, a classic mystery, and a remarkable work of literary fiction; with the passing of time and the changing of the characters’ lives the book evolves, taking on new shapes and wearing each genre perfectly. What proves to be paramount in the novel is life, as simple and complex as it is. Life’s joys and tragedies, the loves and losses woven within the years, and the power of living with purpose, the contentment of fulfilling one’s personal aspirations in the world; this was the plight of Evelyne and John, and a thread that the novel reveals to be an everlasting piece of human character.

I found Walk to Paradise Garden to be breathtaking in its scope, and I marveled at the author’s ability to maintain the intricate details of so many places and histories, as well as the detailed and heartwarming characters he created. In its grandeur the novel leaves the reader in a blissful state of unknowing through the passing of time, wondering if the next element to confront John and Evelyne's lives will be one of happiness or sorrow, of mystery or suspense. And in yet another layer, the story unfolds to include a generation beyond its hero and heroine. In this way I felt that I was truly immersed in the history of real people – I’ll admit, by the end I had to remind myself that they were, sadly, fictitious – and that the story unfolding in front of me was one of notable importance. It’s as poignant and enchanting as a lifetime, and its message leaves the pages to take root in the heart of its reader.

Title: Walk to Paradise Garden Author: John B. Campbell Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery, Romance Publisher: John B. Campbell Format: paperback, ebook Release date: February, 2012 Provided by: John B. Campbell (c/o) Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Smashwords Connect with the author: Website | Blog