The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I truly loved The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. The language, the story, the witty prose, the depth of characterization all melted my heart. I sat perpetually engrossed in this novel and dreaded turning pages because I found it was ending. It became a book that did not need a stopping point for me. I did not want the story to cease.
A brief summary of the novel:
A young girl is hiding on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She's been placed behind a barrel by "the Autoress" and told not to move. As a child, this is an exciting game of hide and seek. However, upon landfall she finds herself abandoned. She arrives without companion and nothing to her but a small white suitcase containing a few items of clothing and a book of fairy tales - she does not even remember her name. The dock master cannot believe someone would have abdicated such a beautiful child and he cannot bear to let her sit on the docks alone. He and his wife decide to raise her as their own. Her secret is well kept until her twenty-first birthday when her father tells her the truth. This completely shatters her sense of being. "Nell" as she knows herself, sets out to find her true identity, her biological family. Her sojourn takes her to the Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast far away from Australia and she meets remnants of the Mountrachet family. However, Nell does not get to fully unravel her mystery, only begin it. Her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the quest after Nell’s death as works to place each piece of the puzzle.
The characters of this novel are simply fantastic. I'll give the plot a five-star rating, too, but it was the characters that forced my hand throughout the work. Nell was by far my favorite character. Tough as nails, warm as toast in her own pejorative way. She was selective in her friendships and fierce in her loyalty. I also loved 'the Authoress' of whose identity brims throughout, but I won't give it away here.
This book is romantic and wistful, a spell-binding mystery and one I'm glad I read. I will certainly read more by this author!
For more information about Kate Morton, visit her website at: http://www.katemorton.com
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