The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton

As a huge fan of Kate Morton’s previous novel, [intlink id=”293″ type=”post”]The House at Riverton[/intlink], I didn’t think she could possibly surpass its brilliance. But she has, and with ease, it seems. The Forgotten Garden tells the tale of Nell Andrews. On the night of her twenty-first birthday, she discovers that she isn’t who she thought she was. Her father confesses that she wasn’t born to he and her mother, but rather, they found her.

Abandoned on a ship bound for Australia, the little girl has been sworn to silence and must tell no-one her name. On arrival in Australia, there is still no sign of the lady that brought her here and told her to hide, The Authoress. Luckily, before any harm can come to her, a man working on the docks finds her. Because she won’t reveal who she is or where she came from, he feels he has no choice but to take her home until he and his wife decide what to do. However, they’ve recently been trying for children and have so far been unsuccessful, so the young couple decide to keep the girl for themselves, making their family complete.

Years later, the secret has become too much for Nell’s father and he confesses all. Nell’s world is turned upside-down and she begins to question everything; who is she, where did she come from, and why did her real family abandon her? Years later she is given something that belonged to her a long time ago and it gives her the push she needs to go and search for her past. We follow her on that journey, jumping back and forth through time being spoon-fed snippets of the whole story which eventually come together in a climactic ending.

The Forgotten Garden is stunning. I have nothing but admiration for the author and how she’s managed to structure the book so you’re just given a little bit of information at a time, but are still hooked and desperate to find out what happens next. It feels very much like you’re doing the detective work along with the characters in order to work out the century-old mystery. And when you have, you’ll realise just how clever the plot is. There are a couple of twists and turns which I certainly didn’t see coming and all add to the suspense.

Overall, this was a fascinating read. I was interested right from the very beginning, and not once did my interest wane. In fact, the story drew me deeper and deeper until it took all of my will-power not to skip to the end and find out. However, because of the way the story is written, there’d be no benefit to that because it’s all so skilfully woven throughout the narrative. Superb, from beginning to end. If you’re interested in family histories and mysteries, this is an excellent read.

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