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)
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.
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!
I bought this book because it was long, a bargain price, and had lots of good reviews. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I really like multi-generational stories, and this one had a lot of interesting facets. The characters were well-developed and likable. The narrator's voice was lovely and she did a great job distinguishing characters. Overall very worthwhile. As a young girl I loved "The Secret Garden"; this was sort of a Secret Garden for grown-ups.
I LOVED this audio book. The reading was first rate, and the story was captivating. It drew me in slowly but then took off to the point that I couldn't leave it even when I had other things to do!
Do we really need all the music interludes between chapters!?! Distracting at best... Caroline Lee is a fine reader and her skills do not require artificial music breaks.
Albeit an enjoyable listen with a fine tip of the hat to The Secret Garden, the book dragged a bit at the end. The plot twists and mysteries were not so complex that the last 4 hours listening time could have been condensed into 2 hours.
Story line too slow for me, maybe later. Narration accent too hard to listen to when the story could not pull me in. Maybe I will try again later.
I just loved this book! It was a bit hard at first to keep the characters straight until I realized the dates stated at the beginning of a change helped keep it straight. Otherwise, a great story and great narrator. I wish Audible had more than 2 of her books available. My new favorite.
Wonderful narration almost redeems this much-too-long melodrama. It wasn't too hard to figure out where the plot was going, so there were no surprises.
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!
great story, nice narrator this book didnt seem to be as long as it actually was, very easy to listen to and enough twists that it wasnt too predictable, i will listen to her other books on the strengh of this experience.
"It takes you to a wonderful place"
I just finish listening to this book. For 5 days, I gave up my every free moment to listen to it. It got my attention in the first five minutes, and I am deeply sad it has ended already. It's a family story, told by three characters, in three diferent times. It has mistery, drama and just a little touch of romance (the correct amount, if you ask me). The narrative is fluid and the passages from one time to another easy to follow and well connected to each other. If you're a hopeless fan of images from the 1900's and family stories, this is the book for you.
"The ending was very good"
I loved the book. The story was very interesting and i never felt like i was bored.
"Time well spent"
This is a cleverly woven story of three generations which avoids being cliched. The main characters, Cassandra, Nell and Eliza are convincingly portrayed and each evokes the time period in which she is set.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book.
One word of advice; the narrotor's tone and English/Australian accent needs some getting used to.
One of the best books I have listened to in a long time! Great characters and a storyline that kept me listening well past my bedtime every night! I'll definitely be looking out for more of Kate's books.
"A good story spoilt"
This was a good story but Oh dear the \" Cornish \" accent was so excruciating to listen to, spoilt it for me.
"Pleasant read but could have been shorter"
I enjoyed this book but must admit could have been a couple of hours shorter.
I did enjoy Caroline Lee's voice when she wasn't trying to do regional accents, she has an engaging and warm voice. However, her attempts at Yorkshire and Cornish accents were so attrocious and grating that it would have been much better just to have not tried at all.
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