Monday, May 24, 2010

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

In The Forgotten Garden, Nell learns that as a young girl she was abandoned on a ship and taken in by a dockmaster and his wife. She is devastated. She is determined to find out who she is and where she came from. However, before she does discovers the truth, she dies and leaves the mystery for her granddaughter, Cassandra, to solve. Spanning decades and continents, the story follows the characters as they uncover family secrets and find the pieces to this intriguing puzzle.

I loved this book. Because the book is 549 pages long, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish it. However, I didn't have any trouble. I really didn't want to put it down. Not even once. I thought about the characters even when I wasn't reading and could wait to get back to the book to find out what happened next. The short chapters really helped me as it was easy to pick up the book when I had a few spare moments. I loved how the author tied the end of one chapter with the beginning of the next even though many times the chapters featured time periods decades apart.

The other thing that drew me along was the fantastic story. It read like a really good mystery. The author presented a nice balance between the past and the present. Each of the time periods (1913-1914, 1975-6, 2005) received equal billing in revealing parts of the mystery. I also loved that the story was not always linear. It jumped back and forward amongst time periods and looped back to events that were previously mentioned. It sounds confusing, but it really wasn't. The author preceded each chapter with the location and year, which helped me follow the story.

I loved all of the characters, especially Nell and Eliza. I really felt bad for Nell. I can't imagine what her journey was like. She showed great strength and courage to start her quest. It must have been agonizing to have to abandon it without knowing the truth. As for Eliza, she had such a hard childhood. I hoped that she would find some happiness as she grew up.

I admit that I got Eliza, Nell, Ivory and Rose mixed up a couple of times. It wasn't that I didn't know who they were, I just had trouble keeping all of the relationships in line. I quickly drew out a "family tree" and that helped me to keep everyone straight.

One thing I didn't like about the book was the epilogue. It was a nice ending, but it bordered on cheesy and was unnecessary in my opinion.

Favourite quotes:
After Eliza loses a loved one:
Then she folded his memory as gently as she could, wrapped it in the layers of emotion -- joy, love, commitment--for which she no longer had need, and locked the whole deep inside her.(page 142)

On climbing a steep hill, Ruby says:
I feel like a von Trapp, but fatter, older and with absolutely no energy for singing(page 421). night she fell quickly through the thick layers of sleep, woke to find night lying behind her in one solid dreamless drift. (page 389)

It's a be able to look forward and not back.(page 391)

New word Alert:
elucidation (page 66) - clarification
perspicacity (page 150) - sharpness
toffs (page 190) - upper-class person
fecund (page 221) - prolific
secateurs (page 222) - scissors
espaliered (page 314) - growing method for a tree, especially a fruit tree, trained to grow flat against a wall
titivating (page 340) - doing up/dressing up/beatifying
sibilant (page 357) - a consonant that is pronounced with a hissing sound
inviolable (page 440) - unbreakable, sacred
There was one word I hadn't heard for some time: clack. It's not a new word for me, but I love it.

This book would make a great book club book. This edition of the book includes a Reader's Club Guide to get discussions started.

Highly recommended. I could go on and on about how much I loved this book. I'm really looking forward to reading more books by this author.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Simon and Schuster'swebsite.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Kate Morton's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon and Schuster for this review copy. Thanks Anneliese.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, Washington Square Press(Simon and Schuster), ©2008. ISBN 9781416550556(Trade Paperback), 549p.

1 comment:

  1. Our book club read this book and you're right, it was a great read. Everyone liked it which sometimes doesn't make for as good a discussion as when some don't but we had lots to talk about.

    It's interesting that you mention about the non-linear structure as I just finished reading a book (The Known World by Edward P. Jones) that was also non-linear and I mentioned that it was one of the things I didn't like about it although I had read other books that used a non-linear structure and had enjoyed them. My example was The Time-Traveler's Wife but it could just as easily been this book.

    I highly recommend this book as well.


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