Brisbane, 1930 — It’s Nell’s 21st birthday and her father, the man she’d always called father, tells her that he had found her alone on the Maryborough dock after everyone had disembarked from the ocean liner and dispersed to their various destinations. He couldn’t just leave her there, and while he tried at first to find who she belonged to, after awhile little Nell (they had to call her something) had worked her way into the affections of Hugh and his wife Lil and so they kept her. Worried someone would notice the sudden little addition to their family and that they might lose her, the family moved to Brisbane where they expanded and grew until this wonderful celebration of Nell’s 21st party. But for Nell, everything was ruined — her centre was gone — she had no idea who she was except for the little white suitcase and the book of fairy tales within that had been all she had on arrival in Australia.
Kate Morton‘s, The Forgotten Garden is an intricate piecing together of clues Nell finds from the past, and those her granddaughter, Cassandra, seeks in the future, as they each separate to time and place, span the continents and enquire here and there, finding this person and that, tracing the author of the fairy tales, until Cassandra finally fits the final piece into the puzzle.
The cottage and garden on the edge of the Cornish cliff that belonged to Blackhurst Manor holds many secrets that Cassandra and her new friends try to coax from people who have guarded the tales for many years. Who was the author? And who was Nell’s mother? What role did her uncle play, if any, in her disappearance? Most importantly, did she belong at the Manor or are there too many coincidences and false trails? Morton weaves the backstories into a tale of a beautiful runaway, her daughter, and her great-granddaughter who eventually unravels the mystery of Nell’s true identity. The ending was a well-hidden surprise. * * * *