The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: April 7, 2009
Genre: Contemporary Women
“Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and now lives with her family in London and Australia. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and harboured dreams of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company until she realised that it was words she loved more than performing. Kate still feels a pang of longing each time she goes to the theater and the house lights dim.”
Author bio condensed from Goodreads
The Forgotten Garden Synopsis
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 forsteps 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.
The Forgotten Garden Review
I couldn’t decide if I liked The Forgotten Garden or I hated it. Kate Morton has this habit of making one person a character but giving you enough about the secondary character, and also making them pivotal to the story line, that they’re almost the main character as well. For the most part, I perceive Cassandra to be the main character of the story. You find out that her mother was basically not there for her and that she lived with her grandmother Nell for a good part of her life. However, something happens to Cassandra that makes her doubt herself, others, and even her own life. You don’t actually find out what it is that happened to her until almost the end of the over 600 page book. However, there are two secondary characters that could almost be main characters as well…
The first secondary character is Nell. You see a bit of Nell when you’re getting Cassandra’s backstory at the beginning of the book. However, when you catch up to present time Cassandra, Nell has passed away (no that is not what happened to Cassandra). BUT you’re also going to go through and learn more about Nell; about how when she was a little girl there was a book of fairy tales that she loved, about this author of the fairy tales that was a mystery to her, about her getting on a boat, and then BAM nothing. It turns out that Nell was abandoned on a boat and the family that found her kept her because no one claimed her.
Oh but there’s more! Nell wasn’t actually abandoned and the family actually did try to find her, and her adopted family knew. They tell Nell all of this on her birthday which causes her to leave her fiance, marry another man, and wait until Cassandra is around 12 or 13 to go figure out who she really is. However, Cassandra is effectively abandoned on her doorstep so she doesn’t go. Instead, she purchases a house from the estate she was born on and leaves it along with instructions for Cassandra to go there and find herself upon Nell’s death. Cassandra does and you find out about Eliza along the way which is the other secondary character who is almost a main character.
As you can see this has a very “pull you in” story. The story itself is amazing. The issues I have are with the character development. Nell leaving her fiancee, marrying another man, cutting ties with her family, etc. because they adopted her and gave her a good life but she feels like she’s living a lie is the most hair pulling thing I’ve ever read. I’m sure I would feel differently if the same had been done to me but I just could not relate. Eliza’s family and how they treat her is another aggravating part of the story. How Cassandra goes from despair to falling in love within the span of a few pages since a lot of the time she’s at this cottage is actually spent giving you Eliza’s backstory, is ridiculous. Ultimately, I feel like Kate Morton was so focused on twists and turns and putting things in to make more twists and turns she didn’t actually think about how to bring those turns to one actual finish line. Does the story wrap up? Yes. Does it do it in a way that makes all of the story lines worth the time? No, not at all.
I feel like you wouldn’t be wasting your time if you checked this out from the library and gave it a read. However, I personally wouldn’t purchase this unless you found it on sale at a library book sale.
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