A bereft Australian woman travels to Cornwall to uncover the mystery behind her grandmother’s mysterious appearance on a dock in Maryborough at the age of 4, her identity completely unknown.
While I had some minor quibbles with some of the stock characterizations in The Forgotten Garden, on the whole I was absolutely riveted by the storytelling. Morton expertly weaves together the stories of three women: Cassandra, a contemporary Australian woman who has received an unusual bequest from her grandmother Nell; that of Nell, who learns at age 21 that in 1913 she was discovered a pier, having arrived on a ship from England with no identity to speak of; and Eliza Makepeace, a writer who crafted a book of fairy tales while living in a cottage in Cornwall at the beginning of the 20th century. She also includes three of Eliza’s stories, which are hypnotic and absolutely convincing. And in Eliza’s story, we also get the points of view of several other characters.
It’s quite a masterpiece of jigsaw puzzle storytelling, because while the reader is privy to information that Nell and Cassandra are not, the conclusions that Cassandra and Nell draw from the information on hand are plausible and convincing. The mystery is truly engaging–even though figured it out about halfway through, I was sufficiently enthralled to want to carry on.
And, oh–how badly do I want to live in a windswept cottage on the Cornish coast–complete with maze and hidden garden! All I would need is a big storm and I’d be as happy as I can be.