The Forgotten Garden is a magical tale woven over four generations of women on two continents. It combines mystery with drama in a captivating way and draws the reader under its spell and into a world of magic, fairly tales, mystery and family secrets.
On her 21st birthday in 1930, Nell Andrews is told by her father that he is, in reality, not her father. He explains that he and his wife took Nell in, after she’d had been abandoned on a ship from London to his port in Australia at the age of 4. The only clue to her identity was the small white suitcase she carried, which contained a beautiful first edition children’s book. The revelation of her past sets the course for the rest of Nell’s life, and that of the generations to follow – especially that of Nell’s granddaughter Cassandra.
Later in her life, searching for answers about her family history drives Nell to England and a small manor house on the Cornwall coast. She records her findings in a journal, but keeps revelations secret from her family, so Cassandra is shocked to be the recipient of the deed to an English cottage on Nell’s death. The journal left behind doesn’t answer all that Cassandra finds she needs to know, by any stretch of the imagination. She picks up the trail of Nell’s research, traveling to the UK from Australia, where she slowly puts together the pieces of Nell’s puzzle, and finds the path to knowledge strewn with links to her own self-discovery.
Ms. Morton tells her story in chapters dedicated to each of the four generations – Nell, her mother and grandmother, and Cassandra. The transitions are carefully done with attention to detail and vivid descriptions of their lives, from the squalor of London tenement houses to the beauty of an English country garden. Nell’s story encompasses art, and story telling, family secrets and family trust, along with a villain or two. I was easily drawn into Cassandra’s journey and found myself fascinated with the way the characters' lives spin in and out of each other’s orbits, bridging the generations and the mystery of Nell’s identity.
I was thoroughly involved with the characters and the mystery. I enjoyed this book very much and hope you will as well.