Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Synopsis (Goodreads):
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.
My Thoughts: I ended up really liking this book, in part because the writing is so fluid and lyrical.  I enjoyed the way we were told the three interwoven stories from the early 1900s, the 1970s and 2005.  I liked that as Cassandra works to unravel the mystery of her grandmother's heritage she begins to find herself.

I keep recommending this book to people by saying that it reminds me a lot of Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale.  Part of it is that in both books we're following a hundred year old mystery but it's more than that.  Both books deal with hidden identities and the mystery in the past is integral to finding the truth in the present.  I actually think the twist in The Thirteenth Tale is a little more shocking, in fact I kept waiting for an incestuous bombshell to be dropped on us in The Forgotten Garden, but in the end I liked the way the events unfolded in TFG to tell the story of three extraordinary women and the ties that bind them across the years.

Equal parts sweet and sad, this is a substantial book that I read in nearly one sitting.  Admittedly, I saw the big reveal about Nell's parentage coming but it didn't really take away from the book.  I could also say that finding the mustard jar at the end was extremely convenient but I think that was offset by the revelation that Christian and Cassandra lives unexpectedly intersected ages ago without the two of them ever knowing one another.

I definitely liked Kate Morton's writing style and the way she brought her characters to life.  I wouldn't be at all adverse to reading more by her to see what else she can do.

More books by Kate Morton

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