The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Release Date: April 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Atria Books
Pages: 552 pages
Source & Format: Gifted; Paperback
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she lost everything dear to me. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.
Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century - Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family, and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.
Thoughts on The Forgotten Garden
I liked the idea of this book better than the execution. It was just sloppy. My first problem was that it felt like it seriously ripped off The Secret Garden in a few parts - you know, with the secret garden and ill child cooped up inside. Combine that with WAY TOO MANY narrators (like six) who all live in different time periods. It jumps around so much date-wse, which really got on my nerves. Morton could have successfully told this story from one, maybe two, perspectives. Instead, it felt like each new character was somehow deserving of their own narration.
I was also frustrated by the whole "oh big mystery" that ended up not being that mysterious. Morton's foreshadowing basically spells everything out, and I felt like it was a little insulting to my intelligence to act like I couldn't figure out the writing on the wall. It's supposed to be really mysterious, but there were so many obvious references to things that nothing really seemed that surprising when it was finally revealed.
There were also a few story lines that seemed really important and ended up being completely irrelevant. At almost 600 pages, that was really annoying. I wished her editor had taken a little more time on getting the book pared down.
I kept setting it down and didn't have any desire to finish it. I know it sounds like it was terrible, and it really wasn't. But it was pretty frustrating, and I couldn't love it once I noticed some inconsistencies and flaws. My cousin and I were reading it at the same time, and we agreed for most of the book that we'd probably give it 4 stars. And then came the last 200 or so pages, which is when we both officially downgraded it.
My cousin pointed something out that basically sums up our problems with this book. In one chapter, Julia says, "I sometimes feel my life is a series of accidents." On the next page, Julia says to Cassandra, "No such things as accidents." I mean, really?
While there were some things I liked about this book, I can't really remember them. All that has stayed with me are the things that annoyed me.
Final Verdict: Skip
It certainly didn't live up to my expectations, and I likely wouldn't recommend it. There were too many things about it that really frustrated me. I did, however, enjoy Kate Morton's The House at Riverton so maybe check that one out instead.