Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Forgotten Garden

Author: Kate Morton
Pages: 449
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
First Line: "In was dark where she was crouched but the little girl did as she'd been told."
Published: 2008

Synopsis: In 1913, a 4 year old English girl is abandoned on a ship headed to Australia. She only has some clothing and a book of children's fairy tales in the small suitcase she carries. When she arrives in Maryborough, Australia the dockmaster figures that the only thing to do is bring her home with him. When no one even inquires about the girl the dockmaster and his wife raise her as their own and name her Nell.

On Nell's 21st birthday, she finally learns about being abandoned on the ship years ago and suddenly feels utterly lost and doesn't know who she really is. Years later she embarks on a journey to the Cornish coast in England to Blackhurst Manor to finally figure out where she came from. But it is not until years later, after Nell's death, that her granddaughter Cassandra journies to Blackhurst Manor to find out the real story behind her grandmother's past. Cassandra finds a forgotten walled garden on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor and with the help of the book of fairy tales, Nell's journals and some new friends begins to put the pieces together to figure out why her grandmother was abandoned on the ship so many years ago.

My Thoughts: This book seems to have it all. Mystery, suspense, story of finding one self and feeling connection with others .... If you're looking for a good book on a rainy day to get lost in, this one fits the bill!
One of my favourite books as a child was "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett so when I heard about this book it sounded like it was right down my alley. In fact Hodgson Burnett makes an appearance in the book when she asks to see Blackhurst Manor's famed walled garden. I thought that was a nice addition to this book ... unless you're a fan of "The Secret Garden" author you'd probably not even notice.
I thought it was interesting how the fairy tales almost played a character in the book. How the authoress character used the lives of the people around her to create the storylines for her fairy tales. Morton did keep me guessing about Nell's past and threw a few curve balls my way but about half way through I started to get an inkling about what actually happened to the characters.
There are not many authors, in my experience, who can write a book based in 3 different eras as well as Ms Morton. Telling the story through the eyes of three women: Eliza in 1913, Nell in the 1975 and finally Nell's granddaughter Cassandra in 2005. One would think the reader would get confused about who was telling her story but Morton did a great job keeping the reader up to speed and engaged.

There were a few issues that I had with this book though. It did begin to lag a bit in the middle and then there was the "issue" between Linus and Eliza. I don't want to give too much away but it seemed like there should have been more mention of it in the storyline. The issue was shown to the reader ... then dropped leaving me to wonder "what was I missing?" or "why did the author add that bit in at all?". Like I said I don't want to give too much away but I'd be interested in other people's views on this topic who have already read the book.

My Rating: 4/5

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