Upon opening this book, I fund myself swept, as I often do when reading, into another world beyond my own. Unlike many books or series I have read that take place in a specific setting, time and place, this book spanned over a century, and a mystery that took ninety-two years to solve.
The Forgotten Garden is the tale of Nell Andrews found at age four in 1913 on a dock in Maryborough, Queensland, all alone. The world spun by Morton goes beyond Queensland though, to Victorian London and Cornwall and to the eve of the First World War, when young Nell is discovered.
But the plot thickens. On her twenty-first birthday, Nell is told a secret by her father that sends her on a lifelong quest to discover who she is and where she has come from. It is this secret that takes Nell to Cornwall in 1975 as an old lady, to Blackhurst Manor where the doomed Mountrachet family lived for many years. The only clues to her mysterious past that she has in her possession are a small suitcase with a brush, a child's dress and a book of fairy tales by Eliza Makepeace, known only to Nell as the Authoress.
But Nell is unable to complete her journey of discovery easily. Her daughter's sudden abandonment of her granddaughter, Cassandra on her doorstep after Nell returns from Cornwall sets things back. It is only upon Nell's death in 2005 that Cassandra picks up the mystery and goes to Cornwall to discover the truth about Nell, and Eliza Makepeace and the mysterious Mountrachet family.
Told with the magic of a fairy tale, and with allusions to The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this story charmed me and kept me up at night even when I had put the book down, but in a good way. Like Nell and Cassandra, I wanted to discover where they had come from and the truth. The mystery of who Eliza Makepeace was and what would ultimately happen to her made for excellent reading and I highly recommend this book. I am now hooked on her writing and will be searching for more.