Monday, November 1, 2010

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century - Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Ms. Morton is a great storyteller! The beginning of the book was hard to wade through only because I hadn't been properly introduced to the three women who would tell the story of the forgotten garden. Each chapter is told from a different perspective and era but each story is woven together and at the end, all loose strings are tucked neatly together.
We have a woman who eloped with a commoner and ended up poor with a pair of twins.
The woman's daughter is discovered and taken back to the mansion to live with her aunt, uncle and girl cousin. The two become inseparable, much to the dislike of the aunt.
The cousin's child disappears and ends up in another country, raised by the port master and family. Her adoptive father doesn't tell her until she is 21. She suddenly feels she is not who she thought and goes on a search of who she is. She dies and her granddaughter takes over to solve the mystery.
And Ms. Morton will keep you guessing throughout the whole book. But the story is so engaging and beautifully written the reader won't mind waiting until the end.
I must confess I guess the outcome but there were many, many red herrings thrown in that I was kept off track until the end.
There are over 500 pages in this book and they are all worth reading.

Rating PG
V: None
S: None
L: None

Page 69 test:
Maryborough 1914
Nell had been with them six months when the letter arrived at the post office. A man in London was looking for a little girl, four years of age. Hair: red. Eyes: Blue. She'd been missing near on eight months and the fellow--Henry Mansell, said the letter--had reason to believe she'd been boarded on a ship, possibly a transport headed for Australia. He was seeking her on behalf of his clients, the child's family.
Standing by his desk, Hugh felt his knees buckle,his muscles liquefy. The moment he'd been dreading--had surely always known was coming--was upon him. For despite what Lil believed, children, especially children like Nell, didn't go missing without someone raising the alarm. He sat in his chair, concentrated on breathing, looked quickly at the windows. He felt suddenly conspicuous, as if her were being watched by an unseen foe.
He ran a hand over his face, then rested it across his neck. What the hell was he going to do? It was only a matter of time before the other fellows arrived on the job and saw the letter. And although it was true he was the only one who's seen Nell waiting alone on the wharf, that wouldn't be them safe for long. Word would get out in the town--it always did--and someone would put two and two together. Would realize that the little girl staying with the O'Connors on Queen Street, the one with the unusual way of speaking, sounds awful lot like the little English girl was missing.
No, he couldn't risk anyone reading the contents. Hugh observed himself, his hand shaking a little. He folded the letter neatly in half..."

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