The Forgotten Garden
By Kate Morton
Completed December 11, 2010
The Forgotten Garden is Kate Morton’s follow-up novel to her bestselling The House at Riverton. I enjoyed Morton’s first novel immensely, and I couldn’t wait to read her sophomore effort. All in all, I was not disappointed.
The novel starts with four-year-old Nell, stranded on a wharf in Australia. With no one claiming her, she is adopted by Hugh and Lil, who raise her as their own. When she reaches adulthood, Nell learns the truth about her past and begins a quest to learn more about her biological parents. Unfortunately, she never learned the full truth, leaving her granddaughter Cassandra to unravel the mystery.
The novel takes its readers through multiple generations – the Victorian lives of Rose and Eliza (who are Nell’s ancestors), the 1975 quest by Nell to learn more about her family and the 2005 journey by Cassandra to England to pick up where Nell left off. Morton masterfully maneuvers through each time period, slowly unveiling clues to the secrets of Nell and Cassandra’s ancestry. Where Morton shines is in her character development, even making a 200-year-old cottage a character of its own. Without a doubt, The Forgotten Garden is a classic Gothic novel, and if you love that genre, you’ll enjoy this book.
My only complaint was the overabundance of detail in the story. Morton is talented enough to tell a story without the minutia, and I think about 20 percent of this novel could have been trimmed. Admittedly, it’s a small qualm and does not stop me from recommending The Forgotten Garden to other readers. But if you’re an impatient reader (like me), consider yourself warned.
With that said, Kate Morton continues her storytelling mastery, and I look forward to reading her third book, The Distant Hours, very soon. ( )