The Forgotten Garden

Thoughts tfgbykma The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd Audiobook 2008, narrated by Caroline Lee,  20 Hrs 38 Min

SPOILER ALERT – for this AND for The Light Between Oceans.


I really enjoyed this audio. At first, I was struck, struck hard, by the similarities of the ‘lost child’ concept in The Light Between Oceans. In that book, we have a baby girl in a boat washed up on shore of a remote island and rescued by a couple desperate to have a child. In The Forgotten Garden, we have a 4 year old girl alone on dock and adopted by the Harbor Master. Both stories are set in Australia.

DO KNOW:  I knew absolutely nothing about this book, thinking it was maybe going to be like The Secret Garden  by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Maybe it is but I really didn’t see it (or I just don’t remember The Secret Garden.) I can blame Jenners for my reading this at this time – and for putting it on sale. I recommend you read Jenners’ excellent review. She will give you a synopsis and lovely thoughts on how it all comes together.

OK, back to the coincidence. I was struck by the idea of a child of four being raised by ‘new’ parents. copleyl-1

That is really all of it, though. The books are very different in style and theme. The Forgotten Garden was much more of a mystery while TLbO was more ‘known’, exploring how people deal with choices.

As much as I enjoyed Morton’s tale and give it 4 slices of pie for entertainment, I believe Stedman’s the better book on ‘literary’ merits. Writing is solid.

The Forgotten Garden is creative and teasing. I had to know what was what and HOW it comes together. Clues are dropped, of course, and most loose ends tied up. But. I had a few issues, not that big but something nagged at me, every so slightly but not enough to ruin the experience. You can read Nymeth’s review of how much she wanted to like the book but for a few distracting phrases. I didn’t notice these odd descriptions and metaphors when I listened but when I read Nymeth’s review, I see that such might make one cringe. (Maybe, the audio is the way to go if you are on the fence about it.)

I was more questioning of things that just didn’t set right. And why it took forever to get to the GARDEN. I was wondering in the first half of the book if the author herself forgot the garden.

And crazy brother Linus was creepy but not fully developed and that actually is probably a GOOD thing. And why Nell was so rocked off her kilter and horrible to everyone after finding out her identity wasn’t what she thought. And Leslie was only needed as a device to get Cassandra dropped off with Nell. And the black ship; that was it?! And the oh-so-charming Christian with his abandoning his medical career?  It didn’t ring entirely true but I was just as eager for Cass to have a little love and reason to stay in Cornwall. I expected more real magic rather than just relating the fairy tale magic.

All in all, though it was a fun crazy twisty ride and I enjoyed the audio very much. Probably should be a 3 slicer rather than a 4 and perhaps, The Light Between Oceans deserves a 5 slice rating but that’s ok.

I don’t want to rehash any ratings debates but will settle this at year’s end when I go through my top reads and see what stays strong and which books I can’t even recall what happened. Ratings are subjective and thus are, by definition, subject to warping. Like a puddin’ pie that won’t gel or turns to mush after a day or two.

If you like mysteries about orphans and such, if you like stories set in Victorian England, if you like sweeping generational family secrets and stuff, if you like fairy tales, if you already read The Light Between Oceans and want to see if I’m batty to find a coinky-dink, if you have always wanted to try Kate Morton, then… I recommend this.

Rumor has it that a readalong of Possession is in the works…  I have been wanting to read that like, for-EVEH.

I HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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18 thoughts on “The Forgotten Garden

  1. I was okay with The Forgotten Garden- I mean it wasn’t BRILLIANT but it wasn’t bad. Your pie conundrum reminds me of why I can’t have a ratings system. I’m too wishy washy. I want to read A Light Between Oceans even more now… So thanks. I think :). My TBR list is out of controoooooooool!

    1. I know, I know: the ratings debate!!! egads. I like having my ratings and only feel bad when some one attaches more meaning to them than I do. Very personal. But if I didn’t post, I wouldn’t know/remember. They are just a guide to my own moods, maybe.

      Sometimes, I wonder if there are but two kinds of people. Those that don’t mind ratings and the ones who just “can’t have” – probably the same two types that can leave dirty dishes in the sink til morning and those that can’t.. I have no qualms about sharing that I can leave the dirty dishes to the next day…

    1. I have been intimidated and fascinated by this book for so long. I thought about pulling it out for Long-Awaited-Reads-Month but it stayed put on its spot on the shelf (and glared at me reproachfully).

  2. You make some very good points of some niggling things in the book. I just kind of let it go as it seemed kind of like a “whimsical” book that had to fit together in a certain way. That being said, I hear she gets better and better. And did you love how Frances Hodgen Burnett shows up in the book? : )

    1. I do think it is easier to ride right over these ‘bumps’ when listening to the audio book.
      I can’t say I did get all that excited about FHB because (ahem, *embarrassed*) I forgot who she was…

  3. I thought The Forgotten Garden was a great audio – very entertaining And it kept me on the treadmill! The niggling things didn’t even bother me. Light Between Oceans is on my wish list. And a possible Possession read-along? That book has been intimidating me for years….

    1. Yes, audio allows me to let go of the pickiness and just enjoy. That’s how IT became my favorite last year – the audio was just that much wonderfulness that I didn’t care how creepy that one scene with Beverly was.

  4. Ruthiella

    I liked Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours. I agree that there are other writers who do the neo-Victorian thing better (Sarah Waters, Jane Harris) perhaps, but I would totally read more from Morton. I wouldn’t want to read a bunch of 2 star books in a row, but 3 star books…doesn’t bother me at all!

    Speaking of stars and not remembering books, I often re-star my books on goodreads if a couple of years later the story still stays with me.

    And I would totally take part in a Possession read-a-long. I read it maybe 10 years ago and loved it; it is time for a re-read. .

  5. I just loved this one. It was the first Morton novel I read and I was hooked. I haven’t read The Light Between Oceans yet though and I’m a sucker for gothic mysteries.

    1. Well, the only thing similar between the two books is set in Australia and the ‘adoption’ of a child. The Light Between Ocean is certainly NOT a gothic mystery!

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