Book Review: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton


I first heard of the author Kate Morton when I was collecting recommendations for my summer reading list. The reason I like having a reading list going is so that when I finish a book, I don't have to sit around wondering what book to pick up next. When I have a reading list already in place, I feel like hitting a Staples button. That was easy.

Recently I finished part one of George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, which is the fifth book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire (better known as Game of Thrones for those of you who watch the HBO series). Those books routinely take me a solid month to finish, but they are absolutely fantastic and worth the time. But that's beside the point of today's post. 

Kate Morton's The House at Riverton was the book recommended for my summer reading list, but when I went to the library (yes, people still go to libraries) I was only able to find Morton's The Forgotten Garden. 

I was not to be disappointed. Garden was excellent, and I will be reading more of Kate Morton in the future. 

The Forgotten Garden has no one main character but rather spans three time periods of over a century as we follow three women on a search to unravel the mystery of their past. Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra are the principal players, though Morton inserts narration from secondary characters as well.

What I loved most about this book was the mystery aspect. At the beginning of the novel, we find a young child abandoned on a ship headed for Australia. Upon arrival, the child is adopted by a sailor and his wife. On her twenty-first birthday the secret of her unknown origins is revealed, and she sets out on the quest to discover her past, only to end up unraveling a mystery that goes back generations. 

Each chapter is set in one of three periods: 1905-1913, 1975-6, and 2005. In each we follow Nell or one of her family members. 

The story is brilliantly told, beautifully described, and kept me guessing the whole way through. I love a book that makes me put the pieces together on my own while only revealing small hints one at a time.  As a general rule I'm not very good at putting pieces together; I'm always the last to guess whodunit. So I realize some of you might read this book and think I'm crazy for not figuring out the mystery, but for me the creative plot twists were what made this book so much fun. 

It was one of those books that kept me reading into the night. I raced to the end so I could reveal the plot, but at the same time I was sad to say goodbye to the characters (who have awesome names, by the way).

There were a few issues I had with the plot, but considering how much I enjoyed the whole, my criticism is too minor to be mentioned here.

I highly recommend The Forgotten Garden to anyone who loves historical fiction with mystery and a touch of romance. It was a quick read, the perfect follow-up to a thick George R.R. Martin saga.

Summer reading list for the win! Now to choose what to read next. Check out my list here.
Jen @ wonderfullyunkempt said...

I have this book waiting for me on the kindle. Now to just find the time to read it... Thanks for the review, now I'm excited to start it.

Jes. said...

Ah, thanks for refreshing my memory with your review. Yeah, pretty much everything you loved about this book is what I didn't like. I don't like multiple main characters trying to figure out a mystery that spans decades. It just makes me so frustrated and sad that it was only the granddaughter who figured out the mystery, and you never got a great resolution in the past. Or at least, I didn't feel like I got resolution. So there you go.

Abbey said...

This sounds really great!

Allison said...

YAY...I knew you would love Kate Morton!!! She's my favorite! :)

Eloise and things said...

Ohh plot twists, my favorite. Has been added to my to read list!
x Eloise - Jazzlipsandtulips

Allison said...

I've heard of her, but I've never read anything by Kate Morton. Going to add The Forgotten Garden to my library list! Historical fiction has always been my favorite. Thanks for the suggestion!

anna lizbeth said...

so glad you loved the book!!