.

.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

As I've been casting about for books to add to my Gothic Fiction challenge, I decided to try listening to one of Kate Morton's books on audio.  I have loved Caroline Lee's narration of favorites by Liane Moriarty and found that she also narrates Kate Morton's books.  I had read The Distant Hours in the past, enjoyed it, but hit upon The Forgotten Garden as a place to start listening.  And I am so glad that I did!  If you love tales of windswept houses on Cornish cliffs or lost children or fairy tales with wicked queens or if you loved The Secret Garden, you should definitely try The Forgotten Garden.  Let me start with a quote:

     Cassandra couldn't help herself.  She curled up on her side in the center of the camp bed.  It was the perfect place for reading, cool and quiet and secret.  Cassandra always hid when she read, though she never quite knew why.  it was as if she couldn't shake the guilty suspicion that she was being lazy, that surrendering herself so completely to something so enjoyable must surely be wrong.
     But surrender she did.  Let herself drop through the rabbit hole and into a tale of magic and mystery, about a princess who lived with a blind crone in a cottage on the edge of a dark wood.  A brave princess, far braver than Cassandra would ever be.

I loved this passage and thought about how like my young self it was.  I used to curl up in corners and beneath covers and behind chairs to read as kid.  And read and read and read.  So what happens in The Forgotten Garden?  Well, it begins with a little girl who is discovered all alone on the wharf in Brisbane, Australia.  The year is 1913 and she's sitting there with her small suitcase as if she's waiting for just the right family to come along.  In fact, the wharf master discovers the small child and takes her home, hoping to find the people who belong to her.  It never happens though and he and his wife raise the little girl, who they name Nell, as one of their own.

When Nell is 21, her father tells her how she came to be part of their family.  And this changes Nell's life forever.  The little suitcase contains few items, but most importantly, it contains a book of fairy tales, and the connections of these stories and Nell and a large and desolate house on the Cornish coast make up The Forgotten Garden.  The book is told with chapters alternating between various important dates from the early 1900's to 2005, when Nell's granddaughter, Cassandra, finally discovers all the secrets that have been hidden for so many years.  Some might find the shifting time and location device to be hard to follow, but I loved it.  So many characters, all connected, and how did the pieces fit together?  I puzzled and puzzled and still didn't figure out everything.

There are fairy tales, written by The Authoress, Eliza Makepeace, included.  There is indeed a lovely garden, hidden behind walls and set on a windswept coast.  There is a cottage and there are wicked characters and good and true characters as well.  The author of The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, even makes a small appearance.  And there are Gothic overtones galore.  Perfect!

Again, I'll highlight the really excellent narration performed by Caroline Lee.  She does a great job with all the accents and I look forward to listening to more of Kate Morton's books read by Ms. Lee.  The audio runs just over 20 hours, so be prepared for a longer listen.  I can't wait to move on to Morton's other 4 books.  Have you read any of Kate Morton's books?  Which is your favorite?

50 comments:

  1. I've only read The Forgotten Garden out of all of Kate Morton's books. I did really love it, I found that the mystery was a bit predictable but it didn't really matter because I just enjoyed the story so much :) - Emma | novelsee.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like the 'fairy tale' aspects of this book. I had only read THE DISTANT HOURS up to this point. And now I'm listening to THE SECRET KEEPER. Enjoying it too.

      Delete
  2. I've read all of her books except the latest. The Forgotten Garden is my favorite! It's also the first one I read. The Distant Hours is my second favorite, but they're all good. I just enjoy her style of writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melissa, it's interesting how different people consider one or another of this author's books as their favorite. It seems pretty evenly distributed, which says a lot for her ability to tell a story.

      Delete
  3. This does sound like a delightful book to listen to. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked it a lot, enough to pick up another for my current listen. And I'm liking it too.

      Delete
  4. I haven't read any of her work yet but I have The Secret Keeper as my 1st. I LOVED the Secret Garden. This one sounds magical also. They all sound good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marce, I think you'd like THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN if you liked The Secret Garden. And I'm listening to THE SECRET KEEPER right now. It has WWII as part of the time period, plus current day as well.

      Delete
  5. A tiny suitcase full of secrets is so tempting! I love the quote you shared, because I can relate.

    I've got The Lake House to listen to from Audible, and I just saw that Caroline Lee is the narrator. I'm looking forward to it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think Caroline Lee has narrated all the Morton books. I'm looking forward to THE LAKE HOUSE too. Several have said it's their favorite.

      Delete
  6. I haven't read any of her books but I think I might have this one on my pile. I remember it has received a number of good reviews over the blogosphere when it was first released.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It did receive a lot of good reviews. I read THE DISTANT HOURS several years ago in print and liked it. I picked this one up as the next to read probably because someone mentioned they liked it so much. Can't remember who.

      Delete
  7. And don't forget to try The Lake House! My favorite!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will try THE LAKE HOUSE. I actually have all of them on audio, so I'll make my way through them this year.

      Delete
  8. I haven't read her work but have heard a lot of great things about it. I have to have a road trip planned before I consider an audio book that long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a long audio, I know. It holds your interest though.

      Delete
  9. Sounds good, and different. I love that passage you included too. I had the wrong idea about this book, and the fairy tale aspect is pretty cool. Okay, I think I'll look for this one, Kay. Good review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really enjoyed it, Rita. Suited me very well right now. I'm listening to another, THE SECRET KEEPER, that is good too. WWII setting, plus current day. I'll probably take a break from them after that and then pick up a 3rd later in the year.

      Delete
  10. I have this one, Kay and am looking forward to reading it for the challenge! Will be my first Kaye Morton.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a long-ish book, Peggy Ann, but I liked it very much. Hope you do too. It fits the challenge or my definition of Gothic certainly.

      Delete
  11. I love Kate Morton (as you know) and am so glad that you're also a fan! While waiting for Morton's next book, I'm reading BLACK RABBIT HALL by Eve Chase. It reminds me of a Morton book - crumbling old house on the Cornish coast, family secrets, etc. I'm enjoying it so far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a copy of BLACK RABBIT HALL and am hearing good things about it. I'll probably read it pretty soon. I don't want to be listening to a Gothic book and also reading one at the same time. I'd get details mixed up I think.

      Delete
  12. Marisa @ The Daily Dosage
    I've really wanted to read a Kate Morton book for some time but never get to any. I've bought The Forgotten Garden so your review makes me want to read it sooner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it soon, Marisa. I really liked it.

      Delete
  13. I've never read this author. I think I might give her a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'd like it, Vicki. It's a little longer, but the story is so good.

      Delete
  14. I love Kate Morton. This was the first of her books I ever experienced, and I too listened to it instead of read it. I adored every bit of it. She has such a fantastic writing ability and is just an amazing storyteller.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree - the story was really absorbing and beautiful.

      Delete
  15. This is the only one I've read by Kate Morton though I'm hoping to get to more very soon. I absolutely loved this one! It was just such a beautiful book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful indeed, Katherine. Just loved how it flowed and all the fairy tale aspects.

      Delete
  16. I have a few of Morton's books but I haven't read any yet! I love Gothic and this sounds wonderful! And yes I have it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved the fairy tale and Gothic aspects. Not sure if others of her books are like this, but can't wait to see.

      Delete
  17. You make this sound so good, Kay. I tried reading a Kate Morton book last year I think it was and couldn't get through it. I ended up giving the book to my mom in hopes she'd have better luck. I'm trying to remember the title . . . The Secret Keeper. Maybe I'll try again one of these days (especially if you think the audio version is worth it).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wendy, I'm listening to THE SECRET KEEPER right now and it is very different from THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN. I'm enjoying it, but it doesn't have the Gothic atmosphere or fairy tale aspects.

      Delete
  18. I haven't read any books by Kate Morton yet, and don't think I've ever actually read The Secret Garden, either, but I've been meaning to do both things! I'm listening to a Liane Moriarty audiobook now (The Three Wishes) but didn't notice who the narrator is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This would be a good one to start with, Laurie. A very interesting story indeed.

      Delete
  19. I loved this book--it was one read with one of my book clubs. I keep meaning to pick up another book by this author. I have her latest novel in one of my piles, but the size is daunting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this author's books are not short at all. However, sometimes I like the story to go on and on. :-)

      Delete
  20. I loved the audio of The Forgotten Garden, too, but haven't listened to any of her other books. The House at Riverton is on my kindle... hopefully coming up soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm listening to THE SECRET KEEPER right now. I'm liking it well enough, but not as much as THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN - at least so far.

      Delete
  21. I've read several Kate Morton books but never tried an audio. Glad you enjoyed this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this one was fine, but I've stopped the second one I was listening to. I'm going to switch to print and see if I can finish it. Maybe not a good idea to do two of the back to back.

      Delete
  22. I blogged about this almost 7 years to the day! Unfortunately, it's one I gave up on. From my post:

    ...after reading over 160 pages, I realized this just wasn't calling out to me, and I wasn't eager to spend another week or so reading the remaining 387 pages.

    The story is told from three points of view and jumps back and forth in setting and time between 1907, 1913, 1930, 1976, and 2005. And, to add to my confusion, there's also a story within a story. I'm not one who needs a linear timeline, nor do multiple narrative voices frustrate me, but for whatever reason, this book became more of a challenge to finish than I would normally like, so I decided to call it quits.

    Like you, I included a couple of passages about reading. Maybe I need to go back and give this one a try on audio. I know she's quite a popular author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I'd worry about if I were you, Les - going back I mean. Sometimes books just don't speak to us. I moved on afterwards to listening to THE SECRET KEEPER, which several mentioned that they loved. And I've put it aside for now. Just not feeling it.

      Delete
  23. I really want to read this book! I guess I better be ready for a long read though! I've only read one of her books, The House at Riverton, which I loved but just haven't gotten around to them. I actually have a couple on my shelf. Oh boy. Anyway, hope you are having a wonderful Easter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did have a nice Easter and thanks. I started listening to THE SECRET KEEPER, but put it aside for now. Just wasn't keeping my interest. I'll probably go back to it at some point.

      Delete
  24. I have read Kate Morton's Secret Keeper which I loved! It was epic in many respects. I need to pick up more of her books - she certainly has many fans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She does have a lot of fans. I certainly liked this one.

      Delete
  25. We read this one for my book club a few years ago and I really enjoyed it. I think I would have enjoyed the audio even more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The audio was very well done, Lisa.

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!