ruzmarì's Reviews > The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
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May 12, 11

Read in May, 2010

I am breaking silence here to gush about Kate Morton. Her fiction is carefully researched and crafted, and the writing itself is luminous. The Forgotten Garden unwinds like a fairy tale, slowly curling off the spool where ambiguously benefic crones have wound it. We jump back and forth between present-day Australia where a young woman mourns the mysterious grandmother who inspired her as a child, to England at the turn of the last century where an affluent family in a small coastal town conspires to conceive, and then bury, a tremendous secret, one whose shock waves will reach forward across generations and oceans. At the heart of the England plot we find a friendship between two apparent opposites - one, the sheltered, sickly daughter of the rich family; one, the free-spirited adventurous tomboy - and a secret that rends them apart even as it knits them together. And at the heart of that, we find one of Morton's real strengths : her ability to capture the often bitter logic of human behavior, the ways in which trust and resentment weave together to form a hobbling grown-up-ed-ness rich with the sting of childhood betrayals.

Another of Morton's gifts is especially prevalent in this novel : her intense focus on writers and the imaginary worlds they sculpt from words, especially writers of children's stories. Children's stories, this novel knows, hold their own ancient wisdoms about responsibility, trust and betrayal, and their truths - while far from palatable - are far preferable to the gossamer fables adults tell each other and themselves to make life liveable. Morton alternates between narrative chapters about present-day Australia and early-twentieth-century England, punctuated with insertions of fairy tales from a magical book within the book. As the story unravels, the reader begins to see traces of the real-life narrative in the images and metaphors of the fairy stories. And, at the end of the novel, it is up to the reader to determine whether the reverse is not true, as well - the eruption of fairy-tale logic within the stolid cadre of real life.

I can't say much more about the plot without giving it away. It is a brilliantly structured and performed novel, one I could not put down (to clarify : I began the novel at the airport in Louisiana on my way to France. I finished it as the plane touched down in Paris. A perfect fit for the "life is too short, you can sleep when you're dead" school of thought).
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Anna I am so absorbed in this book that I wish had and entire day to finish it. I love her writing style. I am fully invested in these characters.


Natalie I adored this book and read it over two days when we had no power following a cyclone - never have I been so pleased to be stuck at home with nothing else to do! Lovely review you have written.


message 3: by Jigar (new)

Jigar i agree


message 4: by Tillythyme (new)

Tillythyme a beautiful review that befits this marvelous book!


ruzmarì Sorry, Jaime, whoever you are - I deleted your comment because it gave away too much ! No spoilers please !


Jaime Brooks ruzmari: I am so sorry! I didnt' stop to think!! :) Is there a way to discuss books on here without spoiling for others?


Jaime Brooks ruzmarì wrote: "Sorry, Jaime, whoever you are - I deleted your comment because it gave away too much ! No spoilers please !"

I am so sorry! I didnt' stop to think!! :) Is there a way to discuss books on here without spoiling for others?


message 8: by Abi (new)

Abi Garrett I live in lousiana! I can't wait to read this book.


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