Forgotten Garden (Morton)

The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton, 2008
Simon & Schuster
560 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781416550556

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-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find 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. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.

This is a novel of outer and inner journeys and an homage to the power of storytelling. The Forgotten Garden is filled with unforgettable characters who weave their way through its spellbinding plot to astounding effect. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Berri, South Australia
Education—B.A., and M.A., University of Queensland
• Awards—(see below)
Currently—lives in Australia

Kate Morton is the eldest of three sisters. Her family moved several times before settling on Tamborine Mountain where she attended a small country school. She enjoyed reading books from an early age, her favourites being those by Enid Blyton.

She completed a Licentiate in Speech and in Drama from Trinity College London and then a summer Shakespeare course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Later she earned first-class honours for her English Literature degree at the University of Queensland, during which time she wrote two full-length manuscripts (which are unpublished) before writing the story that would become the 2006 novel The House at Riverton.

Following this she obtained a scholarship and completed a Master's degree focussing on tragedy in Victorian literature. She is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program researching contemporary novels that marry elements of gothic and mystery fiction.

Kate Morton is married to Davin, a jazz musician and composer, and they have two sons.
Works & recognition

Works and recognition
Morton's novels have been published in 38 countries and have sold three million copies.

The House at Riverton was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller in the UK in 2007 and a New York Times bestseller in 2008. It won General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards, and was nominated for Most Popular Book at the British Book Awards in 2008.

♦ Her second book, The Forgotten Garden, was a #1 bestseller in Australia and a Sunday Times #1 bestseller in the UK in 2008.

♦ In 2010, Morton's third novel, The Distant Hours, was released, followed by her fourth, The Secret Keeper, in 2012. He rmost recent novel, Lake House, came out in 2015. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/23/2015.)

Visit the author's website.

Book Reviews 
Both books reveal Morton as an author in supreme control of her material, and she delivers again, right on target, with another atmospheric historical saga shot through with mystery and secrets, grand passions and tragic the maze in the forgotten garden of the title, it's a delicious book to become lost in.
Sunday Mail

This is a novel of a writer who is really getting into her stride. The magical opening of The Forgotten Garden launches us into a complex and richly textured world. Morton skillfully interweaves the different periods in which the novel is set, maintaining pace throughout. She gradually strips away layers of mystery, leaving a nice twist to the end...A beautifully written and satisfying novel
Daily Express

A four-year-old girl abandoned aboard a ship touches off a century-long inquiry into her ancestry, in Morton's weighty, at times unwieldy, second novel.... Intricate, intersecting narratives, heavy-handed fairy-tale symbolism... create a thicket of clues...but the puzzle is pleasing and the long-delayed "reveal" is a genuine surprise.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
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?

11. In what ways do the settings in The Forgotten Garden represent or reflect the characters' experiences?
(Questions from the author's website.)

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