Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Forgotten Garden - Book Review

A friend recently recommended that I read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Since she is also in my neighborhood book club, we conspired together to read it this month, giving me a great excuse to buy it (and since I was buying it, I couldn't help but add a few more books to the order).

The Forgotten Garden is one of those glorious books that is easy to get lost within the pages. While the language is not overdone (just coming off Hawthorne, it initially seemed a bit simple, in fact), Morton does a good job of describing the setting and the fascinating, odd and frightening characters within it.

It's long but it's one of those stories that I really couldn't put down once I'd started reading it, much to Utah Dad's chagrin. The story takes center stage in this novel. Morton has no social agendas or deep themes. She is simply telling a fascinating and sometimes horrifying tale. Using various characters' viewpoints and skipping back and forth to and from the past, Morton carefully weaves the tantalizing and intriguing tale.

In 1913, a small girl disembarks from a ship in Australia. She is alone, carrying a small suitcase and has forgotten her name. The dock master takes her home to his wife. They name her Nell and raise her as their own. On her twenty first birthday, her father tells her the truth of her origins and she embarks on a quest to solve the mystery of her forgotten past. Even though she gets close, the full truth will remain hidden in spite of Nell's efforts. Eventually her granddaughter Cassandra will take up the search when she discovers that upon her grandmother's death she has inherited a cottage on the sea cliffs of England. With the cottage she also discovers a walled garden, a secret garden. A forgotten garden.

The garden and a few aspects of this novel reminded me of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and I had to laugh when later in the book, Morton works in a scene with the famous novelist and implies that the inspiration for Burnett's work came from this forgotten garden on the Cornish Coast. Clever indeed.

I certainly don't want to give anything away since my friends from book club haven't had the chance to read the novel yet. However, I highly recommend it as a fabulously pleasurable read. Enjoy!

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