The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book–a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to on on, “Nell” sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book’s title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.”
I loved this book! It is very well written and so engaging. It is a little confusing at first trying to figure out who goes to what time period, but in the end it comes together seamlessly. I loved the story and I loved the characters. The storyline is intricate and intimate. The characters are well developed and I felt as though I knew them personally, as if I were on the journey with them. I’m not usually one to try and figure out what happens, I usually just like to read and enjoy the book. With this story, however, I would lie in bed at night trying to piece it together. I would think I had it figured out and then the characters would say or do something that would make me think otherwise. And the cycle continued. In the end, I had a lot of it pieced together, but there were some twists thrown in the end that I hadn’t anticipated.
I thought a lot about family and self worth while reading this book. If I suddenly found out I wasn’t who my family said I was, would it change my relationships with them? Blood doesn’t change who loves you and takes care of you does it? I’m sure I could see myself trying to find my blood relations, but I don’t think I would distance myself like Nell did. Anyway, that was really interesting how each character reacted. I liked that in trying to find Nell, Cassandra was able to find and heal herself as well. I really liked the romantic touch weaved through the story. I found it was interesting how different people saw the same evidence differently, and I liked how the storyline continued through different times and people and never skipped a beat. It was mostly clean. There were a few words throughout, and there was a scene that involved “physical intimacy” of two unmarried people. That whole part of the story is strange, but I guess fits. It definitely made me uncomfortable.
I highly recommend this book! It made me think a lot about how the choices we make not only affect us, but they affect those around us, and they can sometimes set in motion a chain of events we would never have anticipated. Thank you, Ms. Morton, for a very good read!
Rating: PG-13 (Death of a few characters, some language, and “physical intimacy.”)
Recommendation: Senior in High School and up. This is a tricky one. Because of the nature of the “physical intimacy” scene (It doesn’t go into a ton of detail, it’s just the people who are doing it and why they are doing it.), I think the reader should be a little more mature. As an adult, don’t let this description stop you from reading it. I promise, the rest of the book is fabulous and makes up for it.