Friday, February 4, 2011

"It was dark where she was crouched but the little girl did as she'd been told."

Despite a similar disappointment with the mystery element that I also experienced with Kate Morton's first novel, The Forgotten Garden was an enjoyable tangled-web of a story. It begins by showing us an abandoned four year old girl on a ship from England to Australia. At first, she keeps her identity a secret as part of a supposed game but then she hits her head and actually forgets her name and her family. She is adopted by a kind couple in Australia and is raised in complete ignorance of her history. When she turns twenty-one, her father finally reveals that she is not their actual daughter. It is then Nell's obsession to find out who she really is and why she was put out to sea. It turns out to be a tale that won't be fully revealed for generations.

This novel is a bit confusing as it moves through time--from 1900 to 1913 to 1930 to 1975 to 2005--with plenty of back-and-forth and other times in between. Eventually, though, it all fits together in a satisfying way. Like I mentioned earlier, the big mystery of the story is given away rather early if you are paying attention but it is the unfolding of the events that is the real focus of the book. Some of the character decisions are quite unbelievable, there are a few slightly-supernatural moments and the tie-in with Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Secret Garden is a bit tenuous, but, then again, this is a story of fairy tales and so I suppose a suspension of disbelief is assumed. I really enjoyed reading about Brisbane and this has renewed my goal of reading more Australian-set fiction.

Have you read any Kate Morton novels? Do you figure out the mysteries early?

Finding the garden unforgettable,

Support our site and buy The Forgotten Garden on Amazon or find it at your local library. We bought our own copy of this book.


  1. I have Morton's The House at Riverton in this year's TBR pile, so I'll see what I think about her writing once I get round to reading it.

    If this one is set in Brisbane then I might try it anyway - I've been to Brisbane a couple of times (I have a friend there) and I enjoy reading about places I've visited.

  2. I've read The House at Riverton and not so long ago, so why don't I remember anything about it?! It's weird and it doesn't usually happen.

    Maybe it was just... forgettable?

  3. I sometimes figure out mysteries but I am not good at figuring out mysteries for real so if I guess the solution to a mystery, I assume it was super obvious. I plainly have very little respect for my own intellect. :p

  4. I have this and hope to read it this year. I'm terrible at figuring things out ahead of time so I'm sure I'll miss it completely.

  5. I have read The Shifting Fog and The Forgotten Garden and figured both out well in advance but I still enjoyed them as a nice light read

  6. Tracy - This one is partially set in Brisbane -- just enough to whet the appetite for more Australian lit. I'll wait to read what you think of Morton!

    Alexandra - I am having trouble remembering the entire plot of that one as well. Hmm ...

    Jenny - Haha! I have to say that it took the reading of A LOT of mysteries before I started being able to figure them out early.

    Jenners - I don't know. It's pretty obvious. I hope you like this one though!

    Becky - I haven't heard of The Shifting Fog. I'll have to look for that one. I did enjoy this as a light read and probably would have been less critical of it in my pre-blogging days. I hope that it still came through in this post that I did like it!

  7. I finished The Forgotten Garden a couple of days ago. I liked it more than Morton's first book but less than The Distant Hours, her latest. It seemed like I figured out The House at Riverton right away, which bothered me, but I thought there was a little less foreshadowing in The Forgotten Garden. Either way, I enjoy her books!