Thirty-eight year old Cassandra is lost, alone, and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident 10 years ago, feels like she has lost everything known and dear to her.
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 Rutherford - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early 20th century - as well as a cliff-top cottage on the other side of the world, 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.
©2008 Kate Morton; (P)2008 Bolinda Publishing
"This debut page-turner...recounts the crumbling of a prominent British family as seen through the eyes of one of its servants....Morton triumphs with a riveting plot, a touching but tense love story and a haunting ending." (Publishers Weekly)
Tell us about yourself!
I feel like I just ran a marathon. I'm sort of on the fence about this one, or maybe I'm just on the fence about Morton's writing in general. These are very long, extremely detailed, thick and meaty labrynthian stories entangled within themselves. The writing is excellent-a feast of words to be enjoyed, and the stories themselves are interesting and deliciously enriched with the minutiae of life throughout the ages, and the narration is superb, but at the end of the day I'm a little surprised to discover that the basic gyst of the story was immersed in all that. I put this down halfway through with no intention of ever going back. Fortunately I did pick it back up and was happy to discover that I had finally hit the downward slope where mysteries were being solved and I had the desire to find everything out. But getting to that halfway point is seriously daunting, especially since I only recently finished another of Morton's works. It's good, but its an estrogen-fest, and I only recommend this to some serious devotees who dont mind a long book that doesnt necessarily hold your attention at all times. Oh, and the piano pieces seemed to come at the end of every paragraph! They were so bad I came to truly welcome the magical fairy tune that appeared in the latter half. And yes, there are fairy tales scattered throughout the story. Proceed at your own risk.
Say something about yourself!
A stately English country home, its exterior a beautiful mask for dark secrets within.
A mysterious cottage perched on a cliff high above the English sea.
A secret garden, its blooms walled off from the world.
Two cousins, both beautiful, both devoted to one another.
And a four-year-old girl who appears mysteriously on the docks at an Australian port, with nothing to explain her existence but a book of fairy tales.
Indeed, fairy tales take center stage in ?The Forgotten Garden,? Kate Morton?s rapturous follow-up to ?The House at Riverton.? In fact, getting this book through Audible.com is almost a bit of fairy magic in itself, given that the hard copy is not scheduled for publication until April, 2009.
The manner in which the book leaps between 2005 Brisbane, Dickensian London, andCornwall in 1975 as well as 2005 can be a bit disconcerting at first. But as if sprinkled by magic dust, you are quickly pulled into the tale. At the center are two beautiful cousins, Rose and Eliza. One is privileged but sickly, the other poor, but spirited. Together they combine their strengths and become an indomitable pair, forever linked by their devotion to one another.
Until the ultimate promise is honored?and a secret is born that might very well destroy them--and all who follow.
?The Forgotten Garden? features characters you would find in most fairy tales?a good and noble heroine (actually several, since this story spans multiple generations), a misguided king who is overpowered by his evil queen, a good prince, a loyal handmaiden, a noble woodsman (or, in this case, gardener), and, of course, an enchanted garden.
But each character is fully realized and made modern. ?The Forgotten Garden? is a rich and rewarding read that will not be forgotten any time soon.
I loved this audio as much as Kate Morton's other book, The Shifting Fog. I think it's enthralling the way she shifts between 3 different characters in 3 different time periods and then ties it all together for you. Loved the narrator as well. I would definitely recommend this audio.
I'm not a Kate Morton devotée, but I did read another of her books and enjoy it a lot, so I was hopeful when I started this. Unfortunately, I found it fell short - WAY short.
Here were my issues with it:
1. I didn't really care about any of the characters. They were somewhat two-dimensional.
2. Her editor fell down on the job - this book was way too long for a relatively simple plot.
3. The plot was surprisingly guessable for being so convoluted - the whole book felt like a study in patience as I waited (and waited and waited) to have the hypothesis I formed around the 3 hour mark proved right.
This book starts out a bit slowly, the most frustrating part at the outset being how the main character learns of her grandmother's "mysterious" beginnings from her great aunts. After that, the pace picks up and the story is engrossing. At first, I was annoyed by the music before each new chapter, but it grew on me as I learned to pay more attention, because the music signalled a change in the year. The narrator is quite good, though far better with female voices than male, and her American male New York accent is feeble. All in all, a good listen, and captivating story at a good price. I would definitely look for this author and narrator again.
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
This book is the June selection for a book club I attend occasionally. I was just going to skip going this time until a friend encouraged me to read the book. I was reluctant to read it at first because from the title I expected a ripoff of "The Secret Garden." Although the plot is quite different, it is enough like "The Secret Garden" that I wasn't able to be snatched up by the creativity, one of the things that I look for in a good book. I kept going back and forth with this book as to whether I thought it was a good book for me. It has a very interesting story line in spite of similarities to the other book. The mystery of Nell and where she came from was very interesting to me, and I had to keep listening to find out. I did have it figured out long before the end, however. There were big neon arrows pointing to the mystery parents. The thing that took me by surprise was what happened to them that precipitated Nell's abandonment, although I probably should have had that figured out too.
Here is another thing that bothered me. Nell had a loving family. She had parents that adored her, and she led a great life. Although I can understand her wanting to find her birth parents and unravel the mystery of what happened to her, I can't understand her letting it "ruin her life," so to speak. Remember the great lesson of the kids' movie, "Meet the Robinsons?" As my husband and I watched that movie with our adopted daughter we became more and more uncomfortable with the little boy wanting so desperately to find his birth mother until the very end when he chooses not to find out who she was. His reason? "I already have a family." I'm definitely not saying Nell shouldn't have gone looking - I definitely would have, but I think I could have done it from the security offered by my loving adoptive parents. I felt like she was looking for who she was. Truth is, she was already who she was, and that just didn't happen to include her birth parents. Her past did not change just because she found out more about it. It is not usually anyone's first choice not to be raised by one's birth parents, but that is a reality for many many children who grow up to be incredible adults.
This book is definitely worth reading, but it won't go on my favorites list.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
Beautifully written, I loved the entire story and how it was unraveled a piece at a time through several time periods and through the eyes of multiple characters. I loved the original fairy tales that were included and wish that Eliza's fairytale book was available as a separate edition. The ending was so satisfying, yet I was sorry for the story to end and to leave newly beloved friends.
This started out as one of those books that would put me to sleep. It seemed like nothing was ever going to happen. After starting and stopping a few times I went to read the reviews and see what folks had to say. What I found was that the book does, indeed, pick up at some point. So I decided to stick it out, and I'm glad I did! While the story's current time is 2005, the flashbacks to 1905-1913 and 1975 make you forget that these characters are are gone. The author does a great job at breathing life into them as their descendant in 2005 uncovers their story. Because these events have already happened, there is a pervasive sense of futility against a larger power, an inevitable sense of fate -- no matter how much it is struggled against. It's like watching a historically-based film where you forget how it ends because you've fallen in love with the characters. I especially liked how Fairy Tales were worked into the story and how they were developed by the Authoress and their relevance in her life. I didn't really understand or appreciate it until about half way through, but when I finally caught on... wow! Great! I also really enjoyed the way the storyline developed -- the interplay between past and present. Whenever you got an inkling for the truth, the timeline would shift and it would play out in front of you. Great story!! Definitely worth trudging through those first couple of hours! Thank you Kate!
This is an engaging and quite well written book, tho in parts a bit sub-Dickens, with descriptions of "mudlarks" (scavengers from the river Thames)and other characters almost directly lifted from Dickens. Unfortunately the Australian reader has only two accents: Australian and Irish. So all regional English accents (eg Cornwall and Northern England which both have very distinctive accents), are rendered in a brogue: like portraying a southern belle with a Bronx accent. Apart from this annoyance, she reads well, however. If you don't know how the characters ought to sound, this might not bother you.
"What a fascinating story!"
The audio version was easy to follow, the time changes in the story were well defined, and the sound of the Cornish seaside was great.
The description of life in London in 1900.
The distinction between the various voices was clear, but the Cornish accent was appalling! Despite that, the narration was interesting and kept my attention.
The tale of a family through a century.
"An intriguing read"
Yes, because it had a nice rythmn to the story. Knowing the ending, a second listen would give more insight to the characters
The final chapters. It was a really well crafted reveal.
A very pleasant reading style, with no unpleasant mannerisms
No, I like to savour a book
This was my first Morton book, but I will certainly read more. It was well paced, changing between the modern day and past, without being confusing. The characters were very believable. I also liked all the characters in the book.
"Kept coming back for more!"
Really loved this book - admittedly it took a while to get into, as the beginning seemed to labour for a while, but it was certainly worth sticking with. It does take a little concentration, as the drama leaps from the early 1900s to the 1970s and the present day and back and forth repeatedly, but it's something that is surprisingly easy to get used to.
Once I had got into the story and as the threads of the three main characters started to knit together, I was absolutely gripped. I found myself taking my iPod everywhere with me, in the car...while doing housework...to bed, just to find out the next instalment.
Kate Morton is a skillfull storyteller who weaves a complicated, but logical story together accross the centuries. Would certainly recommend this title and will be trying a few more of the author's works now.
The Aussie narrator took a little getting used to and as others have mentioned her rather Dick Van Dyke English accents were very grating, but don't let that put you off. The story is well worth it.
"the forgotten garden"
I had already read this book a couple of times and enjoyed it very much so thought it would be good to have the story playing whilst I work. The narrator managed the tale well and was convincing and engaging until she tackled the Cornish accent. I live in Cornwall so have to admit that I found it amusing to begin with but increasingly irritating as the story went on. It is a shame as it mars what would otherwise be a very good listen.
"The past uncovered"
A great story, perhaps a little predictable but beautifully written and narrated.
Entering the abandoned cottage for the first time and the heroines emotional reaction.
Feeling and empathy.
Yes, I felt very emotionally involved.
With all the twists and turns it kept me guessing until the end. Must admit though that the guesses I had along the way were wrong!
Eliza was my favourite character I think. She was a strong woman with everything she had to put up with.
By changing the narrator, if there are lots of accents you need someone who can make a fair job of it, this narrator was awful.
Yes, if I could have done
narrator needs changing, her accents were awful, Cornish sounded a bit Irish!
"An ok listen, worth a go if in between credits"
Yes, I enjoyed this book actually, kept me guessing and wanting to find out answers.
I loved the descriptions of Cornwall and London from an Aussie perspective.
I liked when the story concentrated on the past and the terrible experiences the twins suffered thorough
Yes, I didn't feel like I wasting my time and I was keen to know how it ended
Wonderful story. Difficult to switch off in order to get on with life..
Twists and turns all along the way..
I thought this book was beautifully written and well narrated. The story grips you from the beginning and you are led down a fair few trails before all the secrets are revealed. I really enjoyed it and will be looking for more from this author.
"A good listen."
I enjoyed this book as I do tend to enjoy books spanning different times and places with narration from characters in each. Starting off with a little girl abandoned on a ship to Australia and then adopted by an Australian couple it is her mysterious life that we are on the trail of after her death at aged 90. The present day story is told through her grandaughter Cassandra who has inherited her grandmother's childhood suitcase and contents and also a cottage in England but the story does go back and forth in time as each character's tale is told. I was kept guessing until the last quarter or so of the book when it became a bit obvious and I found I was waiting for the main character of Cassandra to catch up!
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