Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Forgotten Garden

By: Kate Morton

Rating: PG

It's 1913 and a 4-year-old girl is placed on a ship in England with the strict charge to remain hidden behind barrels, talk to no one and above all, tell no one her name ever, until the Authoress comes to her. But when the ship sails, the little girl is still alone with no Authoress. Months later, the ship docks in Australia and the 4-year-old, name completely forgotten, is alone on the dock with no one to meet her. Taken in by the dockmaster and his wife, she forgets her past until her adoptive father tells her on her 21st birthday. Her sense of self devastated, stripped of blood relationships that never really existed, she withdraws from her life and seeks the mystery of her life at age 4.

The Forgotten Garden is a beautiful book of how precious and yet how fragile sense of self can be, of relationships new and old, and of seeking to find truth and family, not realizing that family isn't always defined by blood. The mystery is seen through the eyes of 3 generations: Nell, the 4-year-old girl who forgets who she is, a book of fairy tales her only tie to her past; Nell's granddaughter, who takes up the mystery after she learns of her grandmother's unknown past after Nell's death; and of a wealthy family in 19th century Cornwall where Nell's mystery originates.

A thoroughly satisfying book with a fabulous ending. A bit of mild bad language but otherwise appropriate throughout. Some youth will likely not find it interesting, it's more likely to resonate with older teenage girls and women.