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 fairytales. 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 very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. But it's not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. (from back of book)This is one of those books that I've been considering for a long time. I first saw it at the book store, picked it up, read the back, and decided not to get it. I saw it for a second time at the used book store and splurged! (Well, not really. It was cheap.) While The Forgotten Garden wasn't a mind-blowing masterpiece, it kept me involved, invested and interested!
We all know that I adore mysteries. So when the mystery in The Forgotten Garden started picking up, it was great to be a part of it. I loved how the point of view was constantly switching, and rotating between three different time periods. It was neat, actually, because we sometimes had knowledge that other characters didn't have at that point. Don't you just love feeling sneaky like that? I did. Being thrown back in time for a few chapters, and then being transported to the future for a couple more, was oh so fun.
Morton's writing had its ups and downs for sure. At times I loved her exquisite imagery and flowy (not sure if that's a word...), smooth descriptions. But at other times, it simply felt repetitive! I noticed that she tends to use some of the same words over and over again. Once I clued into this, her writing sadly lost some of its luster for me. It was still beautiful, but there were no more surprises. I don't know if it's just me, but I also felt that Morton over described certain scenes. There's a fine line between a delicate, perfectly described scene and one that feels too stressed. I think this line was crossed at a few instances during The Forgotten Garden, but for the most part I loved Morton's writing. I soaked it up!
I'd like to discuss the plot of the book in more detail, because this was the main strength of the novel for me. There were so many connections between characters, so much history, so many secrets, so many emotions long buried in the past. Being able to uncover all this along with Cassandra was so great! But it wasn't only with her that we got to learn about things - as I mentioned before, going back in time to see things as they truly happened was such an interesting way to get involved in the story. Through three generations, I was there when everything happened. What a cool feeling!
The Forgotten Garden was, for me, a solid read. It had its faults and wasn't perfect by any means, but the story was just so entertaining! I loved the format, I loved the book's style, and I loved the characters.
Recommendation: Give this one a try! Especially if you're one who loves family mysteries and historical stuff like that.