This is a really long book...I had a hard time getting into it at first. The beginning was a little confusing for me, the way it jumped around. But I am glad I stuck with it. The stories began to weave together and suck me in. I am impressed with all the detail that Kate Morton wrote into this book. She must have had a huge storyboard showing all the story lines and intersections. I honestly had to flip back sometimes to review a detail or clue. Don't pick up this book unless you have the time to devote to it! I liked how the chapters jumped from different time periods and eventually how Cassandra ended up piecing them all together to solve the mystery. The 3 fairy stories by Eliza that are inserted (1 in each section) are a magical addition that add to the solution as well. I went back and read them again after finishing the book, and they held a lot more meaning after I knew the whole story.(view spoiler)[ Overall, I think this is a great book. However, I didn't really like Nell. I thought her crazy and a little stupid to break off her engagement and abandon her family when her father told her the secret about her past. Not to mention Hugh's poor timing in revealing the truth about Nell's past. Who would do that at a daughter's birthday party??? I thought her reaction was a little drastic, but I guess that is what drove the storyline. I just don't think it was very realistic. Shocking as it would be, I don't think I would just abandon everything familiar after being told something like that. I guess my perspective comes from being adopted. Yes, I have an unknown past that I am curious about. But not knowing it doesn't negate who I am and the relationship I have with the family who raised me. That really bugged me about Nell. And I couldn't quite figure out why she didn't have a very good relationship with Lesley. It seemed like she just kept making excuses about not being a good mother to her, but never indicated why she struggled with that relationship. But that really isn't the important part of the book, so I let that fall away.
I wasn't quite sure what was going on with Linus and Georgianna. Was he just overly possessive because she loved him unconditionally? Or was that an incestuous situation? I didn't think it was, but he had such a creepy obsession with his sister. Gave me the willies. And the bond between Eliza and Rose--I understood it when they were younger, but I thought it a little naive that Eliza would think being a surrogate mother for Rose would rekindle their bond. Duh! I don't know any woman who wouldn't be jealous of the details of that nefarious plot...regardless that it was concocted by Rose's own mother. (hide spoiler)]
Kate Morton's writing is excellent. She describes things beautifully in unexpected ways. The writing really takes you away to another time and place. I think it would have been really cool to incorporate some of "Nathaniel's" sketches along with the fairy tales, since they were such an important part of the story. I really liked Cassandra's character, and how she was able to move on...letting go of the ghosts of her past that were holding her captive and learning to love again. It is a wonderful story of redemption spread across four generations.