1. On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell's father, Hugh, tells her a secret that shatters her sense of self. How important is a strong sense of identity to a person's life? Was Hugh right to tell her about her past? How might Nell's life have turned out differently had she not discovered the truth?
2. Did Hugh and Lil make the right decision when they kept Nell?
3. How might Nell's choice of occupation have been related to her fractured identity?
4. Is it possible to escape the past, or does one's history always find a way to revisit the present?
5. Eliza, Nell and Cassandra all lose their birth mothers when they are still children. How are their lives affected differently by this loss? How might their lives have evolved had they not had this experience?
6. Nell believes that she comes from a tradition of 'bad mothers'. Does this belief become a self-fulfilling prophesy? How does Nell's relationship with her granddaughter, Cassandra, allow her to revisit this perception of herself as a 'bad mother'?
7. Is The Forgotten Garden a love story? If so, in what way/s?
8. Tragedy has been described as 'the conflict between desire and possibility'. Following this definition, is The Forgotten Garden a tragedy? If so, in what way/s?
9. A 'plait' motif threads through The Forgotten Garden. What significance might plaits have for the story?
10. In what ways do Eliza's fairy tales underline and develop other themes within the novel?
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