The Forgotten Garden

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Overview

Kate Morton's second novel is a rich and satisfying mystery set in England and Australia of a woman's search for her identity.

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The Forgotten Garden: A Novel

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Overview

Kate Morton's second novel is a rich and satisfying mystery set in England and Australia of a woman's search for her identity.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In 1913, in the last year before the world plunged into war, a tiny orphan girl arrives alone on the shores of colonial Australia from England. Struck by pity, the dock master and his wife take her in and raise her as their own. On her 21st birthday, they finally reveal to "Nell" her true origins. Suddenly troubled by her missing history, she returns to her country of origin, hoping to trace her roots. She parses together some of her hidden past but dies before she can learn the complete story. Years later, her young granddaughter Cassandra pieces together the final missing parts of the puzzle. The author of The House at Riverton has crafted a novel of gothic intrigue that will remind some readers of The 13th Tale.
Library Journal

A cottage on the Cornish coast is home to secrets that pull together three generations of women, despite the decades and oceans that separate them. Morton follows up her New York Times best-selling debut novel, The House at Riverton(2008)—also available from Bolinda Audio, as The Shifting Fog—with this perfect mix of scandal, drama, mystery, and just a hint of fairy-tale wonder. Actress/narrator Caroline Lee (The Ghost's Child) is a natural to portray this largely Australian cast of characters, though her other accents might leave listeners guessing. Likely to appeal to those who enjoyed Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. [Audio clip available through www.bolinda.com; the Atria: S.& S. hc was "strongly recommended for readers who enjoy intergenerational family sagas," LJXpress review 3/20/09.—Ed.]—Lisa Anderson, Metropolitan Community Coll. Lib., Omaha


—Lisa Anderson
Kirkus Reviews
A four-year-old girl abandoned aboard a ship touches off a century-long inquiry into her ancestry, in Morton's weighty, at times unwieldy, second novel (The House at Riverton, 2008). In 1913, Hugh, portmaster of Maryborough, Australia, discovers a child alone on a vessel newly arrived from England. The little girl cannot recall her name and has no identification, only a white suitcase containing some clothes and a book of fairy tales by Eliza Makepeace. Hugh and his wife, childless after several miscarriages, name the girl Nell and raise her as their own. At 21, she is engaged to be married and has no idea she is not their biological daughter. When Hugh confesses the truth, Nell's equilibrium is destroyed, but life and World War II intervene, and she doesn't explore her true origins until 1975, when she journeys to London. There she learns of Eliza's sickly cousin Rose, daughter of Lord Linus Mountrachet and his lowborn, tightly wound wife, Lady Adeline. Mountrachet's beloved sister Georgiana disgraced the family by running off to London to live in squalor with a sailor, who then abruptly disappeared. Eliza was their daughter, reclaimed by Linus after Georgiana's death and brought back to Blackhurst, the gloomy Mountrachet manor in Cornwall. Interviewing secretive locals at Blackhurst, now under renovation as a hotel, Nell traces her parentage to Rose and her husband, society portraitist Nathaniel Walker-except that their only daughter died at age four. Nell's quest is interrupted at this point, but after her death in 2005, her granddaughter Cassandra takes it up. Intricate, intersecting narratives, heavy-handed fairy-tale symbolism and a giant red herring suggesting possible incestcreate a thicket of clues as impenetrable and treacherous as Eliza's overgrown garden and the twisty maze on the Mountrachet estate. Murky, but the puzzle is pleasing and the long-delayed "reveal" is a genuine surprise.
From the Publisher
“A long, lush, perfectly escapist read.”
The Daily News (NY)

“Morton whisks the reader into scene after vivid scene, sometimes frightening us, often perplexing us, and always providing us with a great deal of entertainment.”
Star Telegram (Fort Worth, TX)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781921415722
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Format: CD
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Morton
Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland. Kate lives with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. Her first novel, The Shifting Fog, published internationally as The House at Riverton, was a number one bestseller in 2007. The Forgotten Garden, her second novel, was also a bestseller in Australia, the UK, the US and in many European countries. You can find more information about Kate and her books at katemorton.com.
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Read an Excerpt

The Forgotten Garden


  • ONE

LONDON, 1913

IT was dark where she was crouched but the little girl did as she’d been told. The lady had said to wait, it wasn’t safe yet, they had to be as quiet as larder mice. It was a game, just like hide-and-seek.

From behind the wooden barrels the little girl listened. Made a picture in her mind the way Papa had taught her. Men, near and far, sailors she supposed, shouted to one another. Rough, loud voices, full of the sea and its salt. In the distance: bloated ships’ horns, tin whistles, splashing oars and, far above, grey gulls cawing, wings flattened to absorb the ripening sunlight.

The lady would be back, she’d said so, but the little girl hoped it would be soon. She’d been waiting a long time, so long that the sun had drifted across the sky and was now warming her knees through her new dress. She listened for the lady’s skirts, swishing against the wooden deck. Her heels clipping, hurrying, always hurrying, in a way the little girl’s own mamma never did. The little girl wondered, in the vague, unconcerned manner of much-loved children, where Mamma was. When she would be coming. And she wondered about the lady. She knew who she was, she’d heard Grandmamma talking about her. The lady was called the Authoress and she lived in the little cottage on the far side of the estate, beyond the maze. The little girl wasn’t supposed to know. She had been forbidden to play in the bramble maze. Mamma and Grandmamma had told her it was dangerous to go near the cliff. But sometimes, when no one was looking, she liked to do forbidden things.

Dust motes, hundreds of them, danced in the sliver of sunlight that had appeared between two barrels. The little girl smiled and the lady, the cliff, the maze, Mamma left her thoughts. She held out a finger, tried to catch a speck upon it. Laughed at the way the motes came so close before skirting away.

The noises beyond her hiding spot were changing now. The little girl could hear the hubbub of movement, voices laced with excitement. She leaned into the veil of light and pressed her face against the cool wood of the barrels. With one eye she looked upon the decks.

Legs and shoes and petticoat hems. The tails of colored paper streamers flicking this way and that. Wily gulls hunting the decks for crumbs.

A lurch and the huge boat groaned, long and low from deep within its belly. Vibrations passed through the deck boards and into the little girl’s fingertips. A moment of suspension and she found herself holding her breath, palms flat beside her, then the boat heaved and pushed itself away from the dock. The horn bellowed and there was a wave of cheering, cries of “Bon voyage!” They were on their way. To America, a place called New York, where Papa had been born. She’d heard them whispering about it for some time, Mamma telling Papa they should go as soon as possible, that they could afford to wait no longer.

The little girl laughed again; the boat was gliding through the water like a giant whale, like Moby Dick in the story her father often read to her. Mamma didn’t like it when he read such stories. She said they were too frightening and would put ideas in her head that couldn’t be got out. Papa always gave Mamma a kiss on the forehead when she said that sort of thing, told her she was right and that he’d be more careful in the future. But he still told the little girl stories of the great whale. And others—the ones that were the little girl’s favorite, from the fairy-tale book, about eyeless crones, and orphaned maidens, and long journeys across the sea. He just made sure that Mamma didn’t know, that it remained their secret.

The little girl understood they had to have secrets from Mamma. Mamma wasn’t well, had been sickly since before the little girl was born. Grandmamma was always bidding her be good, warning her that if Mamma were to get upset something terrible might happen and it would be all her fault. The little girl loved her mother and didn’t want to make her sad, didn’t want something terrible to happen, so she kept things secret. Like the fairy stories, and playing near the maze, and the times Papa had taken her to visit the Authoress in the cottage on the far side of the estate.

“Aha!” A voice by her ear. “Found you!” The barrel was heaved aside and the little girl squinted up into the sun. Blinked until the owner of the voice moved to block the light. It was a big boy, eight or nine, she guessed. “You’re not Sally,” he said.

The little girl shook her head.

“Who are you?”

She wasn’t meant to tell anybody her name. It was a game they were playing, she and the lady.

“Well?”

“It’s a secret.”

His nose wrinkled, freckles drew together. “What for?”

She shrugged. She wasn’t supposed to speak of the lady, Papa was always telling her so.

“Where’s Sally, then?” The boy was growing impatient. He looked left and right. “She ran this way, I’m sure of it.”

A whoop of laughter from further down the deck and the scramble of fleeing footsteps. The boy’s face lit up. “Quick!” he said as he started to run. “She’s getting away.”

The little girl leaned her head around the barrel and watched him weaving in and out of the crowd in keen pursuit of a flurry of white petticoats.

Her toes itched to join them.

But the lady had said to wait.

The boy was getting further away. Ducking around a portly man with a waxed moustache, causing him to scowl so that his features scurried towards the center of his face like a family of startled crabs.

The little girl laughed.

Maybe it was all part of the same game. The lady reminded her more of a child than of the other grown-ups she knew. Perhaps she was playing, too.

The little girl slid from behind the barrel and stood slowly. Her left foot had gone to sleep and now had pins and needles. She waited a moment for feeling to return, watched as the boy turned the corner and disappeared.

Then, without another thought, she set off after him. Feet pounding, heart singing in her chest.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 1768 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1026)

4 Star

(434)

3 Star

(179)

2 Star

(74)

1 Star

(55)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1773 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Well-written, likeable characters and enjoyable read

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is an easy read, and yet gave me room to pause as I stopped to think. I like books that let me do that without pounding me into a pulp on the way. I suspect the book might appeal more to women then men and it would be a good choice of several of the reading circles I know. <BR/><BR/>I appreciated the many issues raised in a gentle and non-judgemental fashion. Those with unresolved issues involving child abandonment, fostering, adoption, and similar issues might find the book uncomfortable but most likely not overwhelming. I would have read this book with my daughters, exploring the different facets of love of a child, some that hold tightly, some that let go.<BR/><BR/>I also appreciated that skillful weaving of the generations, a reminder that we impact each other with our choices. <BR/><BR/>My only regret: that Eliza's book of fairy tales isn't a real book.<BR/><BR/>Things I like knowing before I buy a book: No profanity that I noticed. Respectful story-specific reference to sex. Emotional issues dealt with tastefully and healthily. <BR/><BR/>I wil read more by this author.

    81 out of 89 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Enchanting and Entertaining!

    Hugh and Lil ended up raising 4 year old Nell when they couldn't find her family. Nell grows up and has a nice life but always searching for her original family...Nell dies in her 90's and her granddaughter continues the search for Nell's family....Exciting, mysterious read, in the Victorian era...Lots of drama!..Enthralling page-turner! A beautifully written tale!!!

    Just finished reading THE HELP...WoW! Another must read I'm recommending is EXPLOSION IN PARIS, Beautifully done as well! Definite KEEPERS!

    44 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I hope someday I can forget this book

    That it took me a week to read this books is very telling. This was a hard book to read and I'll try to be very clear as to why.

    First, the authoress ;) is very good in her craft in the sense that the writing itself is well done. And if that was all it took for me to enjoy a book she would have received five stars from me.

    However, it takes more than a well written tale for me to fully enjoy the book. First I have to like the characters and let me say, most of the characters were not likeable. From Nell who squandered a gift, to her parents, and the cast of characters we found in England. They were all despicable people, with a very few exceptions, and more than that there was a level of stupidity beginning with Nell that was almost impossible to bear.

    I also felt the story was purposely and needlessly drawn out. Several chapters before the end you have the whole "mystery" figured out so that its anti-climatic when it is finally revealed. I personally don't appreciate such manipulations. I would rather get through the book than draw it out an unnecessary 100 pages.

    I could have done without the fairy tales, but if I'm honest I was so frustrated after the first 100 pages that there was little this book could have done to redeem itself. To me this was a tale about stupid people who made stupid and selfish choices and made everyone around them suffer for their stupidity and selfishness. If I want that kind of tale I'll go read the minutes from Congress.

    27 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Fairy Tales -- Another Fantastic Read From Kate Morton

    When I saw that Kate Morton released a second book, I couldn't wait to get my hands and eyes on it. House at Riverton had been a recommend from a fellow bookseller and, wary as I am of recommends, I read it. And I loved it. But The Forgotten Garden I loved even more.

    Kate Morton has a knack for weaving the past and the present together, for spanning the continents, and for intricate character and plot details that have that "blink and you'll miss it" feel.

    I devoured The Forgotten Garden. Cassandra in present-day Australia who, after her grandmother's death, is left a house in Cornwall, England. To Cassandra's grandmother, Nell, both as a child and as an adult, discovering her past. To the mysterious Mountrachet family and fairy tale Authoress Eliza Makepeace. Who is everyone? How are they connected? Who is Nell, really? And what will Cassandra learn about both her grandmother and herself along the way?

    What I liked most about Morton's second novel is that it wasn't easy to figure out. The mystery shrouding the characters (each and every character, from a maid in the Mountrachet household, to Nell's parents in Australia, to a young gardener Cassandra meets) folds them all together and doesn't give anything away prematurely. I love figuring things out, but each time I thought I had something figured out, Morton added in another element. You would think with this many strings, the novel would be tangled and heavy, but that isn't the case at all. In fact, everything is necessary and everything comes to fruition.

    I'd recommend this to anyone who likes to be surprised, who likes interweaving storylines, past and present, and -- well, really, anyone at all. It is phenomenal.

    24 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Kept me completely immersed!

    In 1913, an Australian dock master found a child alone on a ship. She couldn't tell him who she was, who she'd come with, or why.
    The author does an amazing job of keeping the reader on track with such an expanse of time and three generations of women. It is like reading more than one story like a book of fairy tales. a gripping read.

    Older Nell became obsessed and needed to find out where she had come from, who had abandoned her and WHY.

    Despite her best efforts, Nell died before she was to find the answers then the obsession passed on to her granddaughter Cassandra.
    There are many layers to this book that will keep you completely immersed throughout. I loved it!

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    OUTSTANDING NOVEL

    As with everything this book is not for some people. I loved it. I couldn't put this book down. I was addicted. Trying to figure out the puzzle is part of the attraction. I love the way Kate Morton gives you just enough information to try to mislead you, while always making you question your own revelations as they happen. This is part of her greatness as a writer. I think she is amazing and I have greatly enjoyed both of her books.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book follows me around like a ghost

    I loved this book. I had the privilage to receive a copy of The House At Riverton before it was available to purchase and reveiw it with Barnes & Noble. It was a mysterious read but not something that I would call great or even recommend; however, I think Kate really hit all the spots with this book. There was a mystery and characters a plenty to love and hate. I devoured this book and regret that I am now finished but it's one that you keep reading late into the night because you just have to know where the character's story began and how they have come to be. I will be recommending this one but suggest that they purchase their own copy because I will not be loaning mine. It's a keeper.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    GREAT MYSTERY!

    I loved the suspense and anticipation of turning each page to find a new clue in solving the mystery of an abandoned four year old girl's history over the span of decades. Exciting!

    Others I've enjoyed are The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, TRUE COLORS.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    jumps too many times

    This is a good story, leaving the reader wanting to find out the real
    truth for Nell. The writing style of jumping 3 different time periods
    back and forth takes too much away from the novel.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Don't miss "The Forgotten Garden."

    This book is SO GOOD. Kate Morton's "The Forgotten Garden" starts with a four-year-old girl arriving alone in Australia on a ship from England. When no one claims any knowledge of her, the dockmaster takes her home. Four generations & 500 pages later the mystery is finally unraveled. I could NOT put this one down.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Very Good Read!

    I really enjoyed this book. The story is told thru the eyes of three different people in three different times from the early 1900's to the present. Each time you went to a different time/person, you would get a different perspective of the same story. Very well written. This book reminded me a bit of The Thirteenth Tale which I also highly recommend.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Don't judge a book by it's cover.....

    I literally tossed this book aside and almost forgot I had it. One day, when I had nothing to read and didn't feel like shopping for another book, I looked through my books and found this and gave it a try. Great call! I was completely engrossed in this book and couldn't get enough. The plot is original, you don't expect to find that the author includes fairy tales and paints such a vivid picture in your mind of the garden and the hidden cottage. I highly recommend this book.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Somebody should make a movie out of this!

    This is a definite keeper for my permanent library.
    Don't want to spoil anything..just read it.
    One minor note... I was a wee-bit confused in the beginning.It was my fault though, I wasn't focusing.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I can't put it down!

    I'm 3/4 of the way through with this book and I'm enjoying every page. It's a charming story and I love that it goes back and forth between three generations. Wonderful read!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Positively Enchanting Read

    The victorean ara is one of my all time favorite things to read about and this book does not dissappoint. Though to some going back and forth in time can be a bit confusing, the author does an outstanding job of keeping everything together and easy to follow. I was further over joyed that by the end of the book, no mysteries went unsolved and no questions went unanswered. Characters were rich and real, believable and loveable for their faults as well. I would highly recommend this book. I read it in four days because I enjoyed so much the world it created. Escapism is awesome and anything that makes you appreciate your own family a little more is worth the read. Wonderfully written, I thank the author for a spell binding read.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    Not a forgotten garden

    This book was amazing, and I want to read more Kate Morton writings. It was one of those you can't put down, and don't want it to end. Highly recommend it to everyone, you won't be disappointed.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wow!

    When reading this book, it was like I was there; with the characters. I hated putting this book down and yet I didn't want to finish it too fast. Definitely a captivating story that keeps you wondering what is going to happen next, a book that I will surely read again in the near future!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2010

    Wonderful read!

    What a fabulous story! The more I read, the faster I had to read so that I could find out what happened next. This was one I could hardly put down, and will recommend to all my reader friends. This is part of my permanent, lending library!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    One of the most awesome books I've read!

    If you love a book with romance, a good mystery, nature and literature, you'll adore The Forgotten Garden. This was an absolutely spectacular read. Extremely well written, compelling and original story...but reminiscent of the children's book The Secret Garden. The book has a fantastic plot and characterization. This book spans the entire twentieth century and then some of the new century. This is a brilliant book and the author was extremely ambitious to cover an entire century and two countries (okay New York is in there as well). This is what good writing should look like-- not like most of the drivel turned out today with zero craftsmanship.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Great read from beginning to end!

    This is a great book set in the lives of three different women. A little girl left abandoned on a boat sent to Australia, her granddaughter and the "Authoress". Nell is found on a dock in Australia all alone with no one to claim her and no memory. She's taken in by a loving family who eventually tell her how she was found. All she has is a little suitcase with a book from the "Authoress". Deciding the "Authoress" is the key to her past she sets off on a journey to England to find out her past. Unable to find all the pieces to her past, she leaves what she has behind to her granddaughter who sets off to England to try and finally find out the truth. As the book goes it takes trips back in forth in time to tell you where the little girl came from, how she came to be on the boat and who the Authoress is. It also follows Nells journey to discover her past and her granddauhters journey to self discovery and healing through finding Nell's life story. Rivoting and very well written. The details are delicious and it will keep you guessing till the end.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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