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A Beautiful Tapestry of Whimsy and Wonder

Leora Bernstein, when asked her favorite genres, tends to name all of them, but she’ll try to pare it down here. Currently, she’s on a psychological thriller kick, but she’s also been known to blast through memoirs, narrative non-fiction (particularly current events), dystopia/post-apocalyptic fiction, coming-of-age novels, and (of course) anything theater related. Her favorite kinds of books invoke the kind of conversation you only see after a particularly controversial episode of Sunday night must-see TV, with fantastic world-building and a political/philosophical undertone. She works in sales, as the National Accounts Manager for Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram Entertainment selling the adult list.

I have to admit something. I only read THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN by Kate Morton because my coworker, who has an uncanny ability to recommend the perfect book, gave it to me.

Still, I was concerned. I’m a thriller girl, I love big plot twists and fast-paced action. So a soft-spoken book about an Australian girl who follows her grandmother’s journal entries to a small cottage on the Cornish coast didn’t exactly sound like my cup of tea. But my eagerness to bond with my coworker got me to crack open THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN. My friends, it was one of the greatest risks I have ever taken. I entered the loveliest world of wonder and whimsy, and I have never looked back.

THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN opens with a mystery that literally spans generations. Nell is a young girl who is found on a dock by a kindly older gentleman. No one knows from where she came or to whom she belongs, so the older gentleman takes her home and raises her as his own. Flash-forward eighty or so years when Nell, mind riddled by dementia, passes away, but not before letting a little of her secret out to her granddaughter Cassandra. Nell’s last words, as well as the house she leaves Cassandra in her will, sets in motion a great series of events that will take you through five generations, two grand and artistic careers, a book of delightfully twisted fairy tales, and, ultimately, Cassandra’s own closure.

For me this was not a quick read. As someone who loves the fast-paced world of thrillers, I needed to learn that, sometimes, the books that leave the greatest mark are not the ones you devour; they’re the ones you savor. Kate Morton’s stories don’t just unfold; each plotline builds like a piece of thread, and each thread is carefully woven, coming together to create a beautiful tapestry of a totally complete story. There is no stone left unturned in Cassandra’s life, nor in Nell’s, and you feel this way about every one of the other dynamic characters in Morton’s novel.

That is what makes Kate Morton special. Her characters are so real, yearning, as we all do, for simple connections and a sense of belonging. Where do we fit? Who do we come from? Who are we without the connections we’ve made with other people? Each character in THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN has lost something or someone incredibly important to them, and this novel takes you on the simple, soft-spoken adventure of people who try to find their new place in a world that keeps going on as their worlds collapse.

In case you were wondering, after finishing the last page of THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, I found that it was then in an unreturnable condition. So I gave it to a friend who I knew would adore it and bought my coworker another copy from my local bookstore. Not only am I more connected to my coworker now, but three people are connected by one moving story.


The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The House at Riverton, a novel that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through generations and across continents as two women try to uncover their family’s secret past.A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

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