Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

In 1913, a 4 year old girl is found all alone on a dock in Australia by the Hugh, the dockmaster.  All she had was a little white suitcase with some clothes and a book of fairy tales.  When they couldn't find her family, Hugh and his wife Lil, take her in, name her Nellie as loved and raised her as their own daughter, never telling her about her past.  Now she's all grown up, engaged to be married and about to celebrate her 21st birthday.  Lil has passed away, and against Lil's wishes Hugh feels he must tell Nellie the truth.  As her world and her knowledge of who she is is set spinning, Nell breaks her engagement and sets herself on a quest to find who she really is.  With nothing to go on except the book of fairty tales, she heads off to England in pursuit of who the author is.  She never finishes her quest to find answers as her life takes another turn when she has to care for her teenage granddaughter.  But after Nell passes away,  her granddaughter, Cassandra, is surprised to learn Nell has left her a cottage located on the Cornish Coast.  Not knowing anything about this from Nell before hand, Cassandra heads to England to deal with the cottage but finds she too is taken up with the mystery that surrounds her grandmother.

I loved this story.  Though it is a hefty book at 548 pages, I found I couldn't put it down and finished it quite quickly.  A family saga that spans 3 generations the story is told in the narrative of 3 people from the 3 generations:  Eliza, Nell and Cassandra.  It's a maze of a story, kinda like the maze in the garden mentioned in the title, but is worth it to reach the end.  At first nothing seems to do with anything else, but the author brings it all together in lovely detail.  It's a complicated story but I found the author just drew me in with her descriptions and her ability to really make me feel for the main characters.  I mostly had a heart for Eliza whose story was heartbreaking and had me near tears quite a few times.  The mystery of who Nell really is grows as the story progresses and though I had a small inkling of who she was I never would have guessed the circumstances surrounding her beginning years.  Themes of identity, family history, friendship, family, entitlement, grief, loss, love and decisions affecting generations are all woven into the story beautifully.  Though usually as a reader I tend to  skip date/location notes at beginning of chapters for some reason, I would definitely suggest to make sure you take note of these as you read the story.  It really helps to move the story along and keep the timeline straight in one's thoughts as you read.

I gave this story a 10/10 because of the author's ability to draw me right in to all three women's stories and the involvement of my feelings the author was able to bring out.

Linked to Semicolon Saturday Review of Books


Paula said...

I read this book not to long ago and loved it.

Barbara H. said...

This sounds really good.

ellen b said...

Just placed a hold at my library. Thanks Susanne.

Faith said...

This is on my "Want to read" list!!! Now I definitely will request it at the library. Thanks for the great review!

nikkipolani said...

I listened to this book a while ago and remember relishing the length of it. The sad parts were so very sad, but I agree with you that Kate Morton has a way with words.