From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The House at Riverton, a novel that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through generations and across continents as two women try to uncover their family’s secret past
A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.
I am not entirely sure what led me to add this book to my library holds. I have seen the book around the blogging world since it came out last year, but only just recently decided to give it a try. I have been reading a fair amount lately, but I needed something a bit different. When I asked Swapna from S. Krishna's Books for some recommendations she suggested this book, so I started it right away. Between her blog and random conversations on Twitter I have come to the conclusion that when she really likes a book, there is a really good chance that I am going to like it, too. So far, anyways! This book was no exception. Actually, I think it is safe to say that this book will make it on my best of list at the end of the year.
I was a little worried about this book to begin with. I really didn't know what it was about at all, but knew there was a mystery involved and some connection to fairy tales (which is why it appealed to me). If mystery novels are done in a certain way I really like them, but if they are very formulaic I can do without. This book is also historical fiction, of a sort, so I really liked that connection. I have been reading a lot of good historical fiction novels so far this year. I have to say that reading this book and watching all the pieces come together was really well-done. There were times where I thought I had everything figured out, but then something else would happen and I would question my results.
When a book travels back and forth across several time frames and has several different narrators, it can be really hard to pull off, but I think that Morton did an excellent job. The novel is set in the early 20th century, around 1975-76, and then in 2005. The move through the times is done very well. You feel like you are experiencing each new time and learning new things about all of them. This is a book about a group of women and their connections. It all starts when a little girl shows up in Australia with no adult present. A young man finds her, and since they are having trouble having children of their own, brings her home and makes her part of the family. For 21 years she believes that this is her real family, but then her father decides to tell her the truth and changes her life forever. That admission of truth on her 21st birthday is the real starting point for all the events that follow.
I really enjoyed all the women in this book. The circle they are caught in is really fascinating as it is revealed. There is Eliza, a little girl that has lost both her mother and her brother, but is found by her uncle and taken to live at Blackhurst Manor to escape the workhouse. She lives with her sickly-cousin, Rose, and the two become very close. Then, there is Nell who shows up in Australia in 1913 with no memory of who she is. When she is in her 60's she begins a detailed search into who she is, but events conspire to change things and it is not until 2005 that all the questions are answered. Nell is deceased, but her grand-daughter carries on to find the truth of who her grandmother really was.
There is so much that I want to say about this book, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone. I think you should just read it yourself to see how great it is! I know that I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading another book by Morton in the future.