I could not put this book down! It was beautifully written, intertwined two of my favorite genres—historical and realistic fiction—and an homage to one of my favorite books from childhood, The Secret Garden. What more could I ask for?
Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden follows the story of 3 women, tied together through a mysterious quest to discover their identity. For Nell, this quest is literal. At her engagement party, her father informs her that he found her alone on a ship bound from England when she was a toddler. They searched for her guardian, but when no one came to claim her, they decided to take her as their own. Nell, understandably shaken by this discovery, becomes obsessed with figuring out where her true ancestry lies. Her search leads her to England, a fairy tale writer named Eliza Makepeace, and Eliza’s cousin, Rose Walker. Nell knows her roots lie somewhere with these two women, but her search is halted when her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes to live with her. Cassandra grows up ignorant of Nell’s secret past until Nell dies, and Cassandra discovers that she left her a cottage on the Cornish coast in her will. Cassandra, haunted by her own tragic past, is drawn by Nell’s search and makes it her mission to begin where Nell was forced to leave off.
What follows is a tale of heartache, family secrets, and acceptance as Cassandra strives to unravel the mystery. The story, however, is anything but linear—the reader glimpses all 3 protagonist’s perspectives, life’s events, and tragedies through intertwining storylines and time periods. This unique approach allows the reader to connect with all 3 women in a way that only one perspective would not have allowed and in my opinion, that is one of the novel’s strongest attributes.
I just started reading another of Kate Morton’s novels—The House at Riverton. Stay tuned!