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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.
The Forgotten Garden was an intriguing tale that I couldn’t put down! This novel was recommended to me when I posted an image of an attractively bound edition of The Secret Garden on my Instagram account. Immediately, I set out to find a copy of it. There is certainly the same sense of wonder and a bond between the two novels. The Forgotten Garden is beautifully written and tells the tale of a family mystery spanning generations.
Nell, an elderly lady who passes away in 2005, was in search of her birthmother, the knowledge of where she came from and how she ended up on a ship all alone at the age of four years old, bound for Australia. ‘Her past was like a Russian doll, question inside question, inside question.’ Cassandra, Nell’s Granddaughter and only soul in which she would entrust her lifelong secret, sets out on a journey to England to discovery the truth. The past and present are well linked and considering the structure of the novel, it was not confusing at all. Instead, I was excited to learn more from each character in the following chapters and to be one step closer to the answers they sought.
Hidden between the chapters of discovery are mystical fairy stories written by the woman referred to in the novel as the authoress, Eliza Makepeace. I loved the magical quality of the stories and the intended insight into the characters as they continued to unfold the mystery. The childlike wonder took me back to a time of my childhood and thus, reminisce of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.
The imagery of the garden at the cottage Cassandra inherits is beyond anything I had imagined. I was instantly transported to the glorious walled garden of Cliff Cottage. Each morning, my son and I take time to smell the flowers and like the family in this novel, the garden has great significance, however, in much more dramatic ways than mine. At times I found Eliza’s character implausible, but, this did not cause me to dislike her as a character. Rather, I admired her talent as an authoress despite the burdens she had to bear. In fact, I loved the portrayal of each character and this quote rings true in every instance: ‘That, my dear, is what makes a character interesting, their secrets.’
Would I recommend this novel? Absolutely! I loved it. I enjoyed Kate Morton’s writing style and am looking forward to reading more of her novels. Most of all, I loved how The Forgotten Garden took me to England, a place that I would love to be more often. For someone whose own paternal Grandparents lived in England and father grew up there, I was beaming as I read this beautiful story.
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