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.
Book Review: ★★★★★★
This book provides a mystery that spans four generations, over 100 years, three continents, and two different societal classes — and not a detective in sight! Featuring a rare book of dark fairy tales, a four year old child abandoned on a dock in Australia, an evil aunt, a sickly young girl, various love stories, and a perverted uncle — this book manages to tie them all together into one cohesive whole. Ms. Morton has demonstrated herself as a very gifted author, who can create a wonderful story from so many different parts that the reader is thrilled simply through the multiplicity of the story lines.
There is a line in this book that I found to be most apropos. “That my dear, is what makes a character interesting, their secrets.” This book is an excellent example of that very idea. The characters presented in this story cover a wide range of elements. Mental instability, vindictiveness, petty spite, hatred, envy, lust, love, devotion, loyalty, and the list goes on. But each of them has a secret. And what I loved most about these characters is the manner in which Ms. Morton carefully nurtures and eventually reveals these secrets. I found that I had the ending figured out within the first quarter of the book — but Ms. Morton is so gifted at weaving a truly convoluted story, that I couldn’t be absolutely certain that I was right about my suspicion until the last thirty pages of the book. And never once did she let me down with her development of the lives of all of these different characters.
The main heroin of the book is a slightly isolated, driven, free spirit that refuses to be contained by anyone, or anything. Taught by her mother to never “wait for someone to rescue you. . . A girl expecting rescue never learns to save herself.” This becomes the driving theme of the story. The woman that refused to be rescued by anyone — becomes a savior to all those around her in her own right. Until, she suddenly disappears, with no explanation of why. This becomes the driving mystery of the story. Eliza’s disappearance, and her only remaining clue was the stories she left behind. I loved the character of Eliza. She is everything to every one. The only person she ever seemed to let down was herself.
The other fun part of this book is the part that memory plays in the plot. Recreating memories of the characters through direct presentation, interaction with others, diaries, fairy tales, and mementos. Everyone seems to have a memory except for Nell. Her only happy memories, stripped from her when she turned 21 become the driving force behind the need to solve the mystery of the novel. “Memory is a cruel mistress with whom we all must learn to dance.” This line becomes the crux of the entire story. Our memories are what we make of them. We all have them — and what we do with them can only be determined by us.
This is a book that I found thrilling to read. It is a great story, with so many parts that it is simply fun to try and tie them all together, before the author does. An excellent read that I couldn’t put down.
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