Friday, October 14, 2011

The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton, 2008)

The Heroine: Cassandra, an Australian antique dealer who has recently lost her husband and son in a terrible accident. When her grandmother Nell dies, she is pulled into the mystery of Nell's unknown origins: where did she come from, and how did a child end up alone at the Queensland wharf? Cassandra is serious, lonely and grieving, but she uses Nell's mystery to help her find purpose in life again and ultimately turn over a new leaf in her life.

The Highs: The Forgotten Garden is full of interesting characters who are each given their time to shine. Even better, the majority of them are women who all contribute something important to the story. There is Eliza Makepeace, a poor orphan with enough spunk to unsettle the somber Montrachet estate. There is Rose Montrachet, the sickly debutante with romantic aspirations. And there is even the evil Lady Adeline Montrachet, who controls the estate with iron talons. Each character is colourful and left me flipping the pages to learn more about them.

I also adored the interwoven story plot. Cassandra's discoveries in the present day would lead into a flashback that made the story and the mystery itself richer and gave it more layers. The novel is laid out perfectly for maximum suspense and leaves you wanting more at the end of each chapter. The author's use of weaving in details in also fantastic. I especially adored the scene involving Frances Hodgson Burnett (author of The Secret Garden) viewing Eliza's hidden garden. Interesting and quirky details like that make me really impressed with an author's work.

I loved the setting, specifically the Montrachet estate on the Cornish coast. What girl doesn't dream of living in a breath-taking stately stone castle with sea views? I was very intrigued by the maze and the hidden garden, as well. Overall, I really had a very strong picture of the scenery in my mind.

The Lows: There were a few things I wish the author had elaborated on, specifically the purpose of the maze and Linus Montrachet. First of all, why was there a maze planted on the property to begin with? I feel like so much more could have been done with the maze, since it is such a dark and mysterious sort of place. And as far as Linus Montrachet goes, I am still curious as to the kind of relationship (so to speak) he had with his sister. I also wonder whether or not he had a mental illness. Either way, I wish I had answers to these questions.

I also wish Nathaniel Walker, Rose's husband, played a bigger role in the story. He comes off a little like a stock character or a prop. I found that he was sketched out as an interesting character (a poor painter with a deep love for illustration and his wife!) but in actual practice, he seemed a little flat. I know the author is capable of writing great characters, so I'm not sure what went wrong.

Final Thoughts: I loved The Forgotten Garden. It definitely appealed to my romantic tendencies and soft heart. I've already recommended this book to friends!

Rating: The Forgotten Garden earns nine plot twists out of ten. 

Click here to buy it on Amazon
Click here to connect to the author Kate Morton
Photo from I Heart Elegance


  1. I enjoyed this book sometime last year. I, too, questioned the relationship between Linus and his sister. Maybe it's best not to know!

    As for Nell, I was really peeved at her. She totally wussed out at the beginning that I couldn't have much respect for her.

    I have Morton's two other novels on my TBR. Have you read either of them?

  2. Nell really bothered me, too. I felt like she took everything her family had done for her and threw it in their face by turning her back on them. But I guess that's the nature of books, realistic characters aren't always nice!

    I've already purchased 'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton and I plan on reviewing it soon!

  3. Looking forward to it! I have that put away somewhere. "The Distant Hours" is next to my bed, but I haven't dove in yet.

  4. Hello, I found that were many holes in the story. For example, Linus and Georgiana, The History of Magic that Braid is on the front pages. Nathaniel liked those anyway? Rose or Eliza? Why Georgiana did not want to go back to your home with your children and Blackhurst preferred to spend so much? I misunderstand or Georgiana also had marks on the belly? And as to say that the labyrinth served? Thank you and sorry for the google translator.

  5. Hello, I found many holes in the story. For example, Linus and Georgiana,magic's braid the front pages. Nathaniel likes who anyway? Rose or Eliza? Why Georgiana did not want to go back to your home with the children and chose a poor London? I misunderstand or Georgiana also had marks on the belly? and the maze because it was there? Thank you and sorry for the google translator.

  6. Hi, thanks for commenting! The translator has confused some of your comments, but I'll try to interpret them the best I can! I definitely agree that the book never really provided a reason why Georgina didn't want to go home (only hinted at a weird relationship with her brother...) That has been bothering me, too!

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  8. HI! I adored this book. Exactly like you, Not all my doubts and hypothesis were answered.

    I would have liked that Eliza had not died, Oh well, we wouldnt have story a story to tell.

    Something that I did not got: Was Nathaniel feeling love for Eliza after their really intimate week?

    *The things that bothered me: the feeling of Nell to her family after knowing that she was adopted. As she ruined the relationship daughter-mother and like this influenced the abandonment of his daughter to her granddaughter.

    What bothered the most to me was the change of "temperament" of Rose, because, at least for me, she was playing at her convenience. The final Rose's feelings for Eliza shattered all appreciation than I had for her. Since Eliza was very devoted to her and was always willing to do anything for Rose. (Which I am sure that Rose knew)

    I also have The Distant Hours and The House at Riverton. What I love more of all her books, Is the feeling of mystery, of wanting more. The secrets. It's all an OMG thing.

    Hope you all enjoy it at much as I did.

  9. Hi! Thanks for commenting! I wondered the same thing about Nathaniel's feelings toward Eliza - did he really love her or was he only about the physical? That's a good point about Rose's changing temperment - I hadn't really noticed it before. Thanks for bringing it up!

    I have 'The Distant Hours' by Kate Morton at the top of my to-read pile and will be posting a review over the next couple weeks!


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