By Kate Morton
In times of uncertainty, I gravitate towards books that are familiar and comforting, like a steaming cup of tea on a rainy day. The Forgotten Garden is my cup-of-tea book, reminiscent of The Secret Garden combined with the coziest mystery that has the reader questioning, at every moment, “what’s next?”.
As Nell Andrews takes her last breaths, she reveals to her granddaughter, Cassandra, a family secret that leaves Cassandra floored. Stranger still is the cottage that she leaves to Cassandra, nestled in a small Cornish village a world away from Cassandra and Nell’s home in Australia. Add on the revelation that Nell was a foundling, found waiting, alone, at the age of four with neither mention nor memory of who she was. Armed with little more than a deed to the land, no past to return to and a mysterious book of fairy tales, Cassandra embarks on a whirlwind journey to answer the question: who was Nell, really?
Back up a century. Eliza Makepeace, newly orphaned and having recently lost her twin brother Sammy, lives in a ramshackle attic above a pawn shop in London. Within her she carries the courage that her mother bestowed upon her before passing – along with a warning to always watch for a bad man who is certain to carry Eliza down a cursed path. When a strange man in pince-nez glasses arrives to take Eliza to Blackhurst Manor, she knows this is the man her mother had warned her about – but anything is better than where she is now, right?
Alternating between present-day England and the England of nearly a hundred years before, Morton weaves a tale that transports the reader to a time that, though different from our present-day reality, carries ongoing themes of love without measure, of the ties that bond, of what really makes a family, of the meaning of home. I return to this book regularly and every time, I discover something new.
Beautifully written with detail that draws you immediately into the story, this book provides an escape that ultimately leaves the reader feeling completely at home.