Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Published: 2008
Pages: 549
Genre: Fiction
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.

19 comments:

Darlyn said...

I will give it a try. Thanks for recommendation. This one will definitely be my pick if i have a copy of it. mystery + history is well mix storyline.Thanks for review =)

Melissa said...

Great recommendation...I love historical stuff, so I will definitely try this! :) Nice review!

Kaye said...

Wow, I loved this one! I don't remember Morton being repetitive but maybe I was too caught up in the story. Great review!!

Sheila Deeth said...

I really enjoyed the book, the connections in the plot, and the interesting historical details. Nice review. I'll look more carefully at her use of language (and at mine).

Deb said...

I loved this book when I read it as well. The strength of the story/plot overrode any weakness in writing. I love words and will agree with you that this wasn't a strength in the novel but I just did not care. It is a great story for anyone who likes mystery and the historical setting. Great review. Thanks.

Sarah said...

I LOVED this book but you know what? I loved her other book -- The House at Riverton -- even more. Think about giving that one a try. It's similar in the generational / historical feeling.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Ooo sounds right up my alley. And I could simply live in that gorgeous cover.

Lauren said...

Thanks for the review! I've never heard of this one before but it sounds really good. Also, I love the idea of being able to discover the character's past right along with her.

agirlreads said...

Oh this sounds so cute, and its Australian! I grew up in Australia so I'm always trying to find cute aussie books :)

Thanks for the great review.

Emidy said...

Darlyn - Exactly, it's such a great combination! Glad you want to read it.

Melissa - Thank you! If you like this kind of stuff, check out The Forgotten Garden.

Kaye - I really liked the story! Glad you enjoyed the book, too.

Sheila - Thanks! The character connections were great, I found.

Deb - You said it perfectly! I agree with you.

Sarah - Oh, I'll have to give that one a try! Since you liked it more, it must be good.

Juju - I know, it's it beautiful? Hope you get to read the book!

Lauren - It's a pretty cool read! You should check it out.

agirlreads - Aw, that's great! You'd love it, then.

Nymeth said...

Thinking about this book makes me sad - I really wanted to love it, but I didn't get on with it at all :\ I'm glad you had better luck, though!

Elle said...

This sounds like it would be a beautiful read. Glad to hear that it was entertaining. :) I'll be on the look out for this one then!

Shy said...

Such a fine read, I see! I totally love book narrated from multiple point of views. It might be confusing at times though I think it gives us a clearer picture of the things going on. This sure sound like something I would really enjoy!

Emidy said...

Nymeth - Yes, I remember reading your review! Too bad you didn't like it.

Elle - Great, I'm glad you want to read it! I'm sure it's something you'd like.

Shy - I love books like that too! And I agree, it does make everything clearer.

Nely said...

I really like Kate Morton's books. I actually really enjoyed this one.

Emidy said...

Nely - That's wonderful! I have to try her other book.

AlleluiaLu said...

I love when books call to you from the shelves...that has happened to me many times.

Your descriptions just make me want to run and pick up the books - and I don't have any more room on my bookcase...no worries, I'll make room. This also sounds like a book I would enjoy. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Okay, I really have to go back to hopping now...but I'll be back!

Aths said...

I have this one on my radar and like you, I've been going between eagerness and indifference. I am esp intrigued by the mystery in this book.

Lucia said...

Really great review! I don't know if you've read Morton's other book but I found it to be the better of the two...