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The Forgotten Garden: Another Blockbuster for Kate Morton
on July 26, 2008
A four-year-old girl waits alone on a dock in Australia for parents who never come. Her only possession? A tiny white suitcase containing no information about who she is or how she came to be abandoned.
Nell is a foundling, and what a rare foundling she is. A stow-away on an ocean liner, she refuses to tell even so much as her name. Until in her 60s, over-protected by a loving foster father, she has no clue how she came to be alone on that dock. Hers is the mystery that unfolds in this long novel spanning more than a century, five generations, and two distant continents.
Enthusiastic fans of Kate Morton's first novel, "The House at Riverton," will thrill to her second, "The Forgotten Garden." Like her first, this is a novel whose female characters are finely and fully drawn, and whose males are wispy and insubstantial. How its women interact, how they love and hate one another, how their interplay moves through tragedy and redemption will provide hours of pleasure for her fans.
Morton's excellent pacing creates a page-turner that is hard to put down, although its length might give pause to those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Morton tells her story not only through the actions of her characters but also through fairy tales that work on several levels and provide clues to the mystery's final solution. Many readers will have guessed the solution long before the end of the book. Nevertheless, Morton maintains reader interest throughout.
Overall, this is a highly satisfying read. It's fun to watch the author weave the lives of women into a rich tapestry of life and love, anger and betrayal. However, the novel is not without its weaknesses. First, as mentioned above, Morton's male characters are weak and insipid and never come to life. Second, the love interest at the end of the book does not mesh with the rest of the work. It is almost as though an editor said, "You'd better add a little love story here," so Morton did.
The book's flaws, while mildly unsettling, are not serious enough to spoil a great read. If you enjoy long stories about generations of women, you will love "The Forgotten Garden."