The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton
Adult Fiction
Rating: 3.75 (almost 4…)

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a magical, mystical story full of plot twists and secrets interwoven with fairy tales and valuable life lessons.  I loved the idea of this story and the plot, but I honestly never felt a real connection to any of the characters. And I felt like a couple hundred pages could have been cut out and I really wouldn’t have minded.  Yes, yes, my mood and temperament may have played a part in this somewhat negative view (being too sick to even pick up a book for days on end) but I’m not a huge a fan of reading really long books if there isn’t a dang good reason for it (Lord of the Rings I feel had a pretty good reason for being so thick…ditto with Jane Eyre, not so much in this case).

A young girl, Nell, is found on a ship in Australia without any caretaker, so she is secretly taken into the portmaster’s family to live happily until her father one day, about 20 years later, divulges the secret that she is not really his daughter.  Nell’s life is turned upside down by the news and a whole new life full of mystery, feelings of abandonment and dishonesty, and a path to find out who she really is descend upon her.  Along with Nell’s story we also learn the tales of two other female characters; modern-day Cassandra (who is Nell’s granddaughter) and mysterious Eliza from the early 1900’s.  All of the stories do intermingle extremely well, so you can’t just skip one character’s story and get away with it (trust me I tried), and they culminate into an unforgettable ending.

Morton tells the story from multiple people’s point of views and different time periods and, I’ll admit, it was quite jarring even for me at the start.  Once you figure out who everyone is and know them on a first name basis within the story, it gets a bit easier to understand and a little more enjoyable.  However, as mentioned earlier, I really didn’t like any of the main characters. They were just so extremely frustrating to me!  The decisions they made, the way they acted, their personalities all drove me crazy and I would definitely not have befriended any of them.  Not liking the characters in a book does make it  a bit more difficult to read the book…but finish it I did (I picked it for book club, so it was a bit obligatory).

Now, I don’t want to scare anyone away from this book.  It is a very good story and well written (I couldn’t guess the ending….well entirely) and had some very nice quotes throughout. 

It was the first story she’d ever trapped on paper, and to see her thoughts and ideas turned concrete was curious.  It made her skin seem unusually sensitive, strangely exposed and vulnerable.  Breezes were cooler, the sun warmer.  She couldn’t decided whether the sensation was one she liked or loathed.

~The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

I loved the air of mystery throughout the whole novel, keeping the reader guessing until the very end. And I loved the different relationships shown between the characters throughout the story because they seemed very realistic compared to a lot of other novels. It also offers up a lot in the way of discussion.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t post those topics though! Overall, I’m glad I finished it (the ending is wonderfully done!) I just wish it wasn’t sooo long.

Memory is a cruel mistress with whom we all must learn to dance.

~The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

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5 Responses so far.

  1. jennpower says:

    I enjoyed the book, but it was a bit strange. You thought it was like Jane Eyre? I felt it was almost like it was trying to be “The Secret Garden” without copying it. It was easy to see it was influenced by it; but it didn’t take away from the story too much. If it was the author’s intention to draw clear allusions from the Secret Garden and have people notice while still creating an original story, I’d say she did a good job.

    • Steph says:

      I just thought it was really thick like Jane Eyre 🙂
      The connections to the Secret Garden were pretty neat. I don’t think she ripped off the story either (which had to take some skill to achieve successfully!), but I agree it was definitely influenced by it. Plus, it was pretty cool when she brought in Frances Hodgson Burnett as an actual character giving it some more meaning.

  2. nikihawkes says:

    We seem to have pretty similar tastes in books, so I definitely trust your opinion regarding this one. Not liking any of the characters is probably the worst thing that can happen in a book for me, so I think all leave this one to the book clubs. 🙂 Nice review!

    • Steph says:

      Thanks! It is so hard to read a book when you don’t like the characters. And these ones just didn’t make decisions I agreed with and I just couldn’t fathom why they acted they way they did sometimes…hence driving me crazy. So that’s probably why it makes a good book club pick…lots of room for discussing the flawed characters, but not my one of my favorites.

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