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on April 26, 2009
I have read literally thousands of books during my lifetime; some forgotten as soon as the pages have been read. However, "The Forgotten Garden" will remain with me for the rest of my days. In 1913, a young girl is abandoned on a ship from England to Austraila, and what follows through the pages is a journey back and forth through time in search of her true identity.

The author, Kate Morton weaves a story so profound and magical, the reader will be be captivated by its intrigue from beginning to end. The story holds mystique, fantasy, realism and leaves the reader never wanting the story to end. The characters and plot are stong and well developed, grabbing the reader with such intensity one feels a part of the journey. It is a lengthy book, but one filled with every emotion possible, sadness, joy, antiipation, revenge, jealousy, longing and love.

This is truly an enchanting book, an absolute masterpiece and one you will definitely not want to miss.
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on November 21, 2012
The Forgotten Garden by K. Morton has a nice language and unusual beautiful mataphors. But, otherwise, the authoress couldn't decide whether she wanted to write a suspense novel, or fairy tale. The unexpected, cruel end points to the former, but otherwise the rest of the book is a fairy tale. The characters are either good, or bad, the coincidences plentiful and predictable, the main plot repeated with small alterations, and it has a happy end.
Perhaps, some people would like the book for entertainment, but it teaches you nothing and one cannot give it to a child, because of the suspense.
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on January 9, 2010
The Forgotten Garden is one of those rare, absolutely page-turning books. I read it a few months ago on a trip to South Africa, but the plot and characters are still very much alive in my head. This book has everything: history, mystery, loss and love. (That sounded like a poem!) Kate Mosse writes fluidly and the story line just flows so that you don't even realize you're turning pages and have been sitting in the same exact spot for the past four hours. Only a select few books take me to that place, and The Forgotten Garden was one of them. An excellent read!
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on April 9, 2010
I could not put this book down. Infact, it is the first book in a very long time that I was obsessed with! I didn't want to do anything else in the span of a week that it took me to finish it. I think I even skipped meals on some days just so I could read it! Fiance? Fiance who? He did not exist when I was reading 'The Forgotten Garden'. Haha. It is one of those books that you completely absorb into. Escapism at its best. The story is so mysterious and fascinating! And like the reviews from before, I too am not usually a fan of stories that hop-scotch back and forth but Kate Morton does it in a way that isn't confusing whatsoever! I was sad when I finished the book. A definite must read indeed!!
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on April 4, 2010
The Forgotten Garden had everything for me. EVERYTHING, I absolutely LOVED it!
The plot was ingenious, and it never left you without a mystery to mull over. In between reads (it was quite a long novel), I would constantly find myself contemplating the events in the story and it would rarely leave my mind. From beginning to end, I was sold, and the story only got better as you progressed. The way Kate Morton revealed each part of the mystery was very effective and kept me hooked. I enjoyed the parallel progression of the same story during the lives of each different character and the different eras. Occasionally there were unlikely situations, but that was inevitable and didn't take away from it all because nothing felt forced or tacked on as a last resort. The ending was powerful, conclusive, and did not disappoint!
The characters were interesting and likable, and they were easy to root for. I honestly worried for the well-being of the characters while reading this book. Her characters were also very complex. The protagonists were never perfect and all had flaws that the reader could relate to and even occasionally be frustrated with. The antagonists, on the other hand, (for the most part) were not purely evil, but the motives behind their actions were explained and very plausible. The character development was highly effective. The story even had a little bit of romance, in the perfect dose that didn't overpower the main theme.
This book was so well-written, the language Kate Morton used brought the story to another level and reinforced the emotion throughout the story. The mini fairytales throughout were as enchanting as they were meant to be in the novel, and I enjoyed the transformation of writing style when she wrote them. The symbolism in the fairytales and small details, and discovering their meanings as I read made the novel all the more enjoyable.
My only regret is that I will never be able to read this book for the first time again!
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on August 5, 2012
This is a very well written novel but, for me, it was simply too long, too "emotional" and lacking in real focus. The storyline includes life events from numerous generations, with the occasional fairy tale thrown in for good measure. However, it doesn't really get going until near the end, which is possibly leaving it a bit late. Probably a good read if feelings and relationships appeal to you more than a well-pace plot but it didn't enthrall me personally.
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on May 7, 2010
This is a magnificent story, although its tragedies are very sad. Morton writes of a time in England where impoverished people were driven to drastic survivalistic measures such as selling their children (Adeline). The indelible effects of cold and cruel parents, have long lasting effects (Linus), and ignorance in the medical field left people permanently marred (Rose). A lineage of three orphaned children, Eliza, Nell and Cassandra. Eliza fairs the worst. While Nell has a traumatic incident in her fourth year, the love she finds with her new family, helps her form into a strong woman. And Cassandra feels unwanted and neglected until Nell raises her.

There were parts in the story which I found hard to fathom, for example, Nell's complete rejection of a family who loved her for 17 years, or Eliza's need to get the brooch/hierloom at the end of the story, when she had ample time to get it during her earlier forays. Still, it's an amazing story and Morton's writing is just gorgeous. Her poetic descriptors like "branches scribbled across the horizon" were so pretty.

This book is hard to put down. And I could see this film made into a movie!
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on May 18, 2009
Kate Morton's multi-general genealogical saga is as complex as the over-grown and secluded garden which forms the story's title. Laden with memory and with the dark secrets of the grand aristocratic Cornwall estate, Blackhurst Manor, this novel takes the reader on a colorful journey into an Edwardian England of envy, abandonment and betrayal. In 2005 in Brisbane Cassandra maintains a silent vigil over her grandmother Nell Andrews. Towards the end of her life she peaks about a woman, a lady whom she calls the Authoress. She seemed to think they were on some kind of boat. When Nell finally passes, Cassandra discovers she's gifted her the deeds to an isolated Cornish cottage complete with a hidden walled garden, the back completely covered with brambles.

Traveling to London and then into the village of Tregenna which lies on the outskirts of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra is overwhelmed by the circumstances of her visit, and that of the dark mystery surrounding Nell's past and why, in 1913, she was left abandoned on a sailing ship bound for Australia with a funny looking case with white leather and with silver buckles. Only a book of children's fairy tales published in London in 1913 remains inside. Secrets have a way of making themselves known, and both the garden and Cliff Cottage have a formidable reputation according to the inhabitants of the local village Tregenna.

Soon enough Nell's family, her blood and her past, and these secrets steadily materialize in the wake of Cassandra's investigations, all knitting together: Nell's unknown parentage, her arrival as a child at an ocean port, the suitcase, her mysterious trip to England the early 70's and of course the secret house. Morton steadily weaves the complicated narratives of Cassandra and Nell into that of the life of the Authoress, Eliza Makepeace, her delicate fairy tales anchoring the long forgotten memories and the threads that tie the Authoress of Nell's memory, the name of the Mountrachet family, particularly Rose Mountrachet and her marriage to the handsome artist Nathaniel Walker.

This novel constantly tosses up flecks of the past, offering a maze of unanswered questions. Yet the issue remains of what happened to Eliza who was last seen in London in late 1913, with a small girl Ivory Walter, perhaps Rose's daughter. Revenge and animosity play out in this Dickensian drama. The gorgeous Cornish countryside is eventually shattered by a shocking act of betrayal, Eliza finding herself envious of the glamorous American man who causes her cousin's affections to shift so readily and who steals her dearest friend in the blink of an eyelid. And then there's the fiercely manipulative Adeline lady Mountrachet, who runs a tight ship at Blackhurst and fears Eliza the interloper, the cuckoo who was sent back to Blackhurst by her husband Linus to supplant Rose and to push her from the nest that Adeline had fought to make her own.

With characters who are both compassionate and also cruel, the pitiless manipulations of those at Blackhurst Manor give much of this novel its dramatic heft. Packed with genealogical indexes and hidden scrapbooks, and fairy tale stories, the fear, uncertainty and the excitement of Eliza and Nell - and Cassandra's life gradually unfolds. Meanwhile, the weeds of brambles of the forgotten garden shape the narrative, the hole, very small, at the bottom of the wall, concealing a dark secret. As the jagged memories appear to Cassandra, it is finally revealed that it is Nell who'd spent enough of her life waylaid by regret, drowning in untruths and uncertainty in this painful allegory of love, family secrets, and mistaken identity. Mike Leonard May 09.
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on September 2, 2011
I wanted to like this book. It has some great story elements: An intriguing mystery, an abandoned little girl, a lovely seaside setting in Cornwall, and even fairy tales. While I did find the story itself compelling, the delivery falls flat. The characters are wooden and never properly developed. No matter if the story is told from the point of view of Eliza in 1909, Nell in 1975, or Cassandra in 2005, they all seem to have a similar voice. Eliza is easily the most interesting character, but because so much time is spent on the other two storylines, we never really get inside her head to understand her motivations. Most of the secondary characters could have been left out of the story altogether, as they slow the pace. In fact, with better editing, this could have been a much tighter, more enjoyable read. The writing style annoyed me as well. Unnecessary details such as the endless tea making drag down the writing, along with too much dialogue. The author goes overboard recording every twitch of the characters' faces. They seem constantly to be raising their eyebrows, smiling every time they speak, or worse, grinning. That may sound like nitpicking, but I found these references distracting and irritating. The editor should have eliminated them and tidied up the writing.

The mystery loses its edge early on in the story when the conclusion becomes fairly obvious to the reader. Unfortunately though, the modern day characters don't catch on until the very end, and waste time following leads the reader already knows are false. There are too many coincidences to give credibility to parts of the plot; well-timed art exhibitions, for instance, or important letters arriving just at the right moment. The lurking evil of the uncle, which promises to be a major part of the plot, fizzles into little more than a sidebar. And the appearance of author Frances Hodgson Burnett is just silly. On a positive note, the fairy tales that appear in the novel are well written, in a style true to Edwardian fairy tales like those of Andrew Lang. They do a good job of underlining the themes of loss and restoration in the novel. And the story overall is intriguing, even if the conclusion can be easily guessed. So if the writing style doesn't put you off, you may enjoy this book.
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on July 3, 2012
I would describe The forgotten garden as a historical adventurous thriller. This book follows three women. In three different time periods. It is about a young girl who is found alone after travelling over seas on a ship. A man and his wife "adopt" her. When she is old enough he tells her the truth. She sets out to discover who she is with nothing more to go on then the suitcase she arrived with as a child. The other women in the story are connected to her in someway, including her granddaughter, who also sets out to discover her grandmother's past.

Although it took me awhile to finish this book, I did enjoy it. It wasn't until near the end that I was really hooked. Everyone I know who has read this book said amazing things about it. Someone in line at Starbucks even told me how much she loved it. And although it moved slow at first, the mystery of it and the strong female characters (Eliza is my favorite. She is so mysterious and adventurous) had me hooked. Another plus about this book is the setting. I almost felt I was there. with the wind on my face and the smells and sounds of the ocean. I can feel myself living in the forgotten garden and little cottage. More so then then any book I have read.
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