Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Great Intergenerational Mystery--Kate Morton's "The Forgotten Garden"

Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden opens in Australia in 1913. A young girl has been left alone on a dock and has nowhere to go. This scene opens a mystery that the reader will chase for the next 500 pages. The unfolding of the mystery spans nearly 100 years, two continents, and three generations of women--one in the early 1900s, one in 1975, and one in 2005. As the secret that ties these women together is revealed, Morton weaves a fascinating story of love, jealousy, and the need to find a place where one belongs. 

I really loved this book and I couldn't put it down. Morton is a great storyteller, and she does a wonderful job of slowly unfurling the mystery surrounding her characters so that the reader isn't really sure what the conclusion will be until the final pages of the novel. I feel like Morton also did a good job of representing the different times and places in her novel, while giving all of the women a certain familiar sense. The jumps between time periods were not confusing for me, and I actually thought they heightened the mystery and gave the story the satisfying sense of a slowly assembled puzzle. 

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, gothic novels, and intergenerational family tales. I can't wait to see what else comes from Ms. Morton.


I just found out this book was also selected as one of Amazon's "Best of the Month" for April!  Check out what they have to say:

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten GardenLike Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic The Secret Garden, Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden takes root in your imagination and grows into something enchanting--from the little girl with no memories left alone on a ship to Australia, to the fog-soaked London river bend where orphans comfort themselves with stories of Jack the Ripper, to a Cornish sea heaving against wind-whipped cliffs, crowned by an airless manor house where an overgrown hedge maze ends in the walled garden of a cottage left to rot. This hidden bit of earth revives barren hearts, while the mysterious Authoress's fairy tales (every bit as magical and sinister as Grimm's) whisper truths and ignite the imaginary lives of children. As Morton draws you through a thicket of secrets that spans generations, her story could cross into fairy tale territory--if her characters weren't clothed in such complex flesh, their judgment blurred by the heady stench of emotions (envy, lust, pride, love) that furtively flourished in the glasshouse of Victorian society. While most of them ache for a spotless mind's eternal sunshine, the Authoress meets the past as "a cruel mistress with whom we must all learn to dance," and her stories gift children with this vital muscle memory. --Mari Malcolm

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