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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Book Notes No. 28 : The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

Amid the snows of Switzerland I finally - finally - finished Kate Morton's second novel. It's been waiting, ever so patiently, for me to read it since Amazon delivered it with a flourish, oh, about a year ago. M. immediately cherry-picked it and set about it, and for months I forgot it was even there. Finally, one evening, I came upon it while looking for something worthy to follow J.M. Coetzee's Summertime (of which more anon), and was instantly whirled into the mists of a delightfully solid mystery-thriller. Or maybe it's a love story. Or perhaps a historical novel. Whatever. It's terrifically enjoyable.

The story entwines the experiences of two women, Nell and Cassandra - grandmother and granddaughter - as they each try, thirty years apart, to unravel the mystery of Nell's origins. In 1913, Nell is found as a little girl abandoned after a gruelling ocean voyage from England to Australia. She is taken in and raised by a local family until on her 18th birthday, her adoptive father tells her the truth and the world as she knows it falls apart.

In 2005, Cassandra receives the news that her grandmother has left her a cottage in Cornwall, a cottage Cassandra never knew existed. Perplexed, she takes off in search of answers and finds not only the secret identity of Nell and her mother, but also an understanding of the importance of family and the way families - fathers, mothers and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren - weave together the past, the present and the future.

It's a satisfyingly complex story, with beautifully-drawn and fully-rounded characters. Morton interconnects the form of the fairy tale with the main novel extremely skilfully, the most nightmarish elements of fairy tale - the wicked stepmother, the overpowering ogre, the weak king, the kidnapped innocent - emerging fully into the light in the final pages of the book. Final pages that had me weeping unashamedly into my Chasselas.

A good yarn for long winter evenings that leaves me glad, despite the hard work and the heartache, that I myself took the plunge and made a family.





3 comments:

LindyLouMac said...

Oh how strange you should write about this novel today, when your photo yesterday reminded me of both The Secret Garden and The Forgotten Garden.
http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/6182610
http://lindyloumacbookreviews.blogspot.com

Caution Flag said...

I've now moved this novel to the top of my reading list. Thanks for the motivation.

LadyFi said...

I'm definitely putting this onto the top of my wish list!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Book Notes No. 28 : The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

Amid the snows of Switzerland I finally - finally - finished Kate Morton's second novel. It's been waiting, ever so patiently, for me to read it since Amazon delivered it with a flourish, oh, about a year ago. M. immediately cherry-picked it and set about it, and for months I forgot it was even there. Finally, one evening, I came upon it while looking for something worthy to follow J.M. Coetzee's Summertime (of which more anon), and was instantly whirled into the mists of a delightfully solid mystery-thriller. Or maybe it's a love story. Or perhaps a historical novel. Whatever. It's terrifically enjoyable.

The story entwines the experiences of two women, Nell and Cassandra - grandmother and granddaughter - as they each try, thirty years apart, to unravel the mystery of Nell's origins. In 1913, Nell is found as a little girl abandoned after a gruelling ocean voyage from England to Australia. She is taken in and raised by a local family until on her 18th birthday, her adoptive father tells her the truth and the world as she knows it falls apart.

In 2005, Cassandra receives the news that her grandmother has left her a cottage in Cornwall, a cottage Cassandra never knew existed. Perplexed, she takes off in search of answers and finds not only the secret identity of Nell and her mother, but also an understanding of the importance of family and the way families - fathers, mothers and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren - weave together the past, the present and the future.

It's a satisfyingly complex story, with beautifully-drawn and fully-rounded characters. Morton interconnects the form of the fairy tale with the main novel extremely skilfully, the most nightmarish elements of fairy tale - the wicked stepmother, the overpowering ogre, the weak king, the kidnapped innocent - emerging fully into the light in the final pages of the book. Final pages that had me weeping unashamedly into my Chasselas.

A good yarn for long winter evenings that leaves me glad, despite the hard work and the heartache, that I myself took the plunge and made a family.





3 comments:

LindyLouMac said...

Oh how strange you should write about this novel today, when your photo yesterday reminded me of both The Secret Garden and The Forgotten Garden.
http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/6182610
http://lindyloumacbookreviews.blogspot.com

Caution Flag said...

I've now moved this novel to the top of my reading list. Thanks for the motivation.

LadyFi said...

I'm definitely putting this onto the top of my wish list!