Forgotten Garden

Forgotten Garden

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469226415
Publisher: Bolinda Audio
Publication date: 12/01/2012
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 16
Sales rank: 362,416
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

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

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.


    “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.

  • What People are Saying About This

    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)

    Reading Group Guide

    These discussion questions for The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

    1. On the night of Nell’s twenty-first birthday, her father Hugh tells her a secret that shatters her sense of self. How important is a strong sense of identity to a person’s life? Was Hugh right to tell her about her past? How might Nell’s life have turned out differently had she not discovered the truth?

    2. Did Hugh and Lil make the right decision when they kept Nell?

    3. How might Nell’s choice of occupation have been related to her fractured identity?

    4. Is it possible to escape the past, or does one’s history always find a way to revisit the present?

    5. Eliza, Nell and Cassandra all lose their birth mothers when they are still children. How are their lives affected differently by this loss? How might their lives have evolved had they not had this experience?

    6. Nell believes that she comes from a tradition of “bad mothers.” Does this belief become a self-fulfilling prophecy? How does Nell’s relationship with her granddaughter, Cassandra, allow her to revisit this perception of herself as a “bad mother”?

    7. Is The Forgotten Garden a love story? If so, in what way/s?

    8. Tragedy has been described as “the conflict between desire and possibility.” Following this definition, is The Forgotten Garden a tragedy? If so, in what way/s?

    9. In what ways do Eliza’s fairy tales underline and develop other themes within the novel?

    10. In what ways do the settings in The Forgotten Garden represent or reflect the character’s experiences?

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    See All Customer Reviews

    Forgotten Garden 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1875 reviews.
    Aradanryl More than 1 year ago
    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.

    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.

    I also appreciated that skillful weaving of the generations, a reminder that we impact each other with our choices.

    My only regret: that Eliza's book of fairy tales isn't a real book.

    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.

    I wil read more by this author.
    Lannie More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Sarah_R More than 1 year ago
    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.
    krenea1 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    LCH47 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    readsalotPF More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    CiscoVA More than 1 year ago
    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.
    GreenEggs_and_Ham More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Venus_at_work More than 1 year ago
    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.
    OBXreaderNC More than 1 year ago
    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!
    ButtonWillowReads More than 1 year ago
    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.
    just-a-thot More than 1 year ago
    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.
    LisaWalls More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!
    darthlaurie More than 1 year ago
    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.
    gcwaterlilly More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    progermom More than 1 year ago
    This book has full of surprises and hard to set aside. The threads of the family are so inter-twined and thru the generations but the women in this story are strong, independent and relentless in their search. A great read.
    lukal More than 1 year ago
    By far, this is one of the best books I have ever read. It is very unusual - different from all others. You will love it.
    Coconut_Library More than 1 year ago
    I knew this book had been on the May 2009 Indie Notables List, and had also seen it displayed in Barnes and Noble, but I didn't know much about this book when I started reading it. My book club on GoodReads, Heartwarmers, decided to read it this month. So, I borrowed it from the library. Though it took me a little while to crack the cover, because I became busy and the length was a bit daunting, I am so glad I finally dove in! Kate Morton is a stellar wordsmith and I am so impressed with how she spins a tale. If there were a picture next to "storyteller" in the dictionary, it would be of Kate Morton's face. It's always so delicious to find yourself in a novel that is a bonafide story, where the fibers of plot and syntax connect in such a way that you find yourself in awe of how the author was able to weave it all together so richly. Historical fiction, mystery, light fantasy, and tragedy are all bled together to create a spellbinding story. Amazingly you don't even realize that you are in a mystery until you have already connected with the story, and then it is such a quality mystery that the outcome is not even able to be guessed at until the last fourth of the novel (and even then, it is still a watery guestimation). I haven't felt this way about a story since I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society last year. There is a special sensation that certain books give you; like you have stumbled into something remarkable and though part of you wants to tell everyone so that they can witness it too, the other half of you wants to keep it your own precious secret. These books did that for me. So often throughout The Forgotten Garden I wondered how the author was able to articulate ideas that felt like my own. It takes not only work, but concentration, observance, and a generous amount of introspection to be able to translate those universal feelings onto the page (or in this case onto 549 pages) yet keep the ideas fresh. In the conclusion, Morton backstitches the threads of the piece in such a way that the reader steps back in admiration of the final product; I was taken until the very last punctuation mark. It will be my displeasure to return this to the library -- this is a title that deserves a place in my personal library, and I intend to secure a copy for future re-reading. (originally posted on
    RonnaL More than 1 year ago
    THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN by Kate Morton is more than a terrific book. It is a mystery and love story. It is a story, within a story ,within a story about family history and relationships. Specifically, it is a fascinating combination of all that makes for the best kind of novels!! It reminds me of the writing style of Carlos Ruiz Zafon in THE SHADOW OF THE WIND. It is one of those stories that will keep you intrigued far after you have finished reading it. When a little girl is left on a boat waiting for someone to come for her, but she ends up alone and seemingly forgotten half a world away after a sea voyage, the who, what, where , why and when fills the reader with trepidation and wonder at the intertwining of all that can affect a person in one life time. Yet, everything seemed to flow perfectly in the final analysis. Though this book was over 500 pages long, I read it in one day with great anticipation and a real sense of satisfaction and jubilation when I realized all that had happened to the characters in this book. This is not your average love story! A powerful feeling comes over you when you read how incidents and influences direct our lives. The fairy tales with the book actually cover the realities of the story. This is a bedtime story for the discerning adult in each of us. Great fun and a great read!!!!!
    1DANA3 More than 1 year ago
    I've become quite a fan of Kate Morton! After reading her first one, I was curious about this one, even though the subject matter wasn't normally my choice. I was swept away and transported into an adult fairy tale, into exotic lands and times...daydreams, family saga and subtle romance....and loved the twist in the end! Amazing!.....Another amazing book I've come across that swept me away is EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by L.M. PIRRUNG....Would be a beautiful movie and great book club material!
    jillhanson More than 1 year ago
    Read on!! A must have in your libary. A wonderful story. As good as Rosamunde Pilcher's Shell Seekers. Lots to discuss for book clubs and would be appealing to readers with various interests. A great mystery!
    melrosepjd More than 1 year ago
    The Forgotten Garden is a great read. I looked forward to sitting at the end of my day to read this book. I will pass this along to my "reader friends" as a must read. A great story with very strong characters. I enjoyed reading Kate Mortons books and I look forward to her next novel. I also reccommend her novel "The House at Riverton".