Someone told me The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton was good. They were right. It’s long—549 pages—but I found it impossible to put down. Starting in 1913 with a child playing on a London dock, moving to Australia where a present-day woman is haunted by her past, following a grandmother in the 1930s and an orphan in the 1900s, each seeking secret leads that will find or lose their families—the scenes move from London to Cornwall to Australia and even to America, with each location and time convincingly drawn and beautifully portrayed.
Kat Morton’s characters are delightfully believable and flawed. The selfless mother and beloved child, the fiercely honest father, loving sisters, wandering daughter, the grandchild loved and rejected and wounded and alone… And elsewhere the family that struggles to disguise its secret hurts and lies and histories…
Nell’s world is shattered the day she learns she’s adopted. She longs to find the family who abandoned her, to recover her self-worth. One thread of the story follows Nell’s search from Australia to London to Cornwall, but in another time it’s Nell’s granddaughter Cassandra who’s taken up the quest. All roads lead to secrets like flowers in a garden, beautifully planted and waiting for a gardener to help them grow. And the mysterious Authoress looms at the end of the maze, an indefinable figure of threat or of hope.
This story enthralled me. Even as I began to guess the past I would find it slipping from my grasp, and I had to turn the page. The author keeps the different storylines perfectly separated and beautifully balanced. She fills in the characters, flaws and all, turning them into friends the reader follows eagerly. And she draws it in to a beautiful conclusion where all is exposed and revealed.
The Forgotten Garden is a rare treat of a book and a masterful example of multiple storylines and timelines perfectly told, a powerful and beautiful tale.