As a young girl, I had a copy of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett that I probably read a hundred times. I would love to ask Kate Morton if that fantastic and magical novel was her inspiration for this book I'm reviewing today, The Forgotten Garden. All though this tale is a grown up version of my childhood favorite, the novel possesses the same mystifying qualities as its predecessor.
A four year old girl is found on an Australian dock in 1913, with only a small suitcase filled with clothing and a beautiful volume of illustrated fairy tales. The dock master and his wife raise the fair, beautiful, flame haired daughter as their own, but on the girl's 21st birthday, the dock master decided it is his responsibility to tell his daughter the truth of her origins. "Nell", as she is called by her Australian family, begins a journey filled with mystery and intrigue to discover her roots and how she came to be on that dock alone in 1913. Through shifts in point of view between Nell, her granddaughter Cassandra, and the mysterious Eliza Makepeace, author of the volume of fairy tales found in Nell's suitcase, Morton weaves a tale that is complex, perplexing, and leaves the reader eager to turn the page to discover more of Nell's family secrets. Nell and Cassandra must explore their past, present and future to find the happiness and true identity they are both searching for at different points in time. Cassandra is present-day (2005), reading the notations of Nell's search for her identity in 1975. The varying points of view are what make this novel compelling and rich with character.
Romance, evil, tension, and the love between a grandmother and granddaughter combine to create a wonderfully written novel that I would love to reread in the future! I'm going to purchase Kate Morton's first novel, a bestseller, The House at Riverton, after reading this crafty novel!