Saturday, May 1, 2010

A very satisfying genealogical mystery

The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton

Nell is found in an Australian port in 1913, she is alone and can't remember anything from before being on the ship. A dock worker considers it a sign and takes her home with him where he and his wife raise Nell as their own. Cassandra, Nell's granddaughter, was left in her grandmother's care in 1975 when her mother no longer wanted to be burdened with her. In 2005, Cassandra learns of her grandmother's past and searches for the answers Nell never found. In 1900, Eliza is a young girl who is trying to earn a living on the streets of London and avoid the bad men her late mother warned her of. Eventually, fate catches up to her and she is taken to a country manor to live. These three women's lives are intricately intertwined and Blackhurst Manor holds the key to the truth.

The Forgotten Garden was beautifully written as the author jumped among Nell, Cassandra, and Eliza's viewpoints - each woman telling her part of the family history. This was not a light-hearted story but was laced with deception, betrayal, illicit love, and jealousy. The secrets of the mystery were not particularly difficult to figure out but the details behind the revelations are what kept me reading late into the night. One of the highlights of the book was the three fairy tales that were included; they were more Grimm than Disney but reflected what was occurring in the story and gave clues as to what was happening in Eliza's life. At first, I found it a bit difficult to keep the different time periods straight but eventually it got easier; others may not find it as difficult as I did, names are hard for me to keep straight.

I highly recommend this book and know many of you mentioned that you were planning on reading it this month. Be aware though that I would not have labeled this as romance myself; in fact, I'm not sure which part of the story spurred the description of romance

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