Rummanah Aasi
 Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden is a very popular book club choice. Though its size, a whopping 552 pages, may seem daunting at first but the book is a fast read and for the most part an enjoyable read. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy multi-generational stories.

Description (from the Publisher): 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-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find 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. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.

Review: Intricate, intersecting narratives form the structure of the book. In 1913, a little girl arrives in Brisbane, Australia, and is taken in by a childless dockmaster and his wife. She doesn’t know her name, and the only clue to her identity is a book of fairy tales tucked inside a white suitcase.  When the girl, called "Nell", grows up, she starts to piece together bits of her story, but just as she’s on the verge of going to England to trace the mystery to its source, her grandaughter, Cassandra, is left in her care. When Nell dies, Cassandra finds herself the owner of a cottage in Cornwall, and makes the journey to England to finally solve the puzzle of Nell’s origins. The story shifts back and forth over a span of around 100 years and taps into the Dickensian time period with orphans and dark, dreary Victorian England. There are family secrets sprinkled throughout the story, but some of them were quite obvious and easy to figure out before their big reveal. While some all the pieces of the mystery doesn't really mesh well and the allusions to fairy tales are heavy-handed at times, The Forgotten Garden is an easy book to lose yourself. It’s a satisfying read, but it the story could have been written tightly and easily shaved off the last 200 pages. I really wouldn't be surprised to find out that the book would be adapted into a cable movie/miniseries.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There are allusions to incest, sexual situations, and some language. Recommended for older teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, Wildflower Hill by Kimberly Freeman, The Lost Hours by Karen White
4 Responses
  1. I keep wanting to try this author, but I am never in the mood, I know that is vague but sometimes books like this you need time to ponder and absorb and all that. I think I might try another one of her books before this one.

  2. Candace Says:

    I can't believe I've never even heard of this. I tend to get wrapped in the blogosphere books and miss out on a lot of others. I'm glad I read your review though because it sounds like I might be slightly disappointed in it. It's got a great premise, but being 200 pages too long would probably make a DNF book for me. I don't have the patience.

  3. It's interesting to hear that the story spans over about 100 years. I like the sound of this book! It seems like the perfect escapist read, even if you did think it could have been 200 pages shorter. Great review, Rummanah. :)

  4. This one sounds interesting, and I like that it's full of family secrets. I wonder how the book of fairy tales fits into the story. It's too bad though that you felt that it was a bit too long and at least 200 pages could have been chopped off.

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