“The Forgotten Garden” (book review)

imagesBook Review by Master Gardener Karen DesJarlais

It’s hammock season and this book will make you forget that you wanted to thin those perennials or move that shrub. If it’s horticultural enlightenment that you seek, this is not the book for you. It was published in 2008 so if you missed it, it’s worth going back to pick up. The story crosses three generations beginning with a four year old girl named Nell on a ship traveling from London to Brisbane, Australia. Curious thing is, she is alone. Near the very end we find out why. Over the time span of almost a century, we search for her roots along with her granddaughter Cassandra who travels to London to investigate the family tree. Growing metaphors aside, you’ll want to keep track of the year noted at the beginning of each chapter. Mystery abounds in many directions as we follow the back and forth of Nell. The unintended sting of finding out that she was left on the dock, brought home and raised by a kindly dock worker and his wife, her eccentricities, and the distance that she feels not knowing her origins weave a secretive and gripping tale. Cassandra learns more about the origins of her grandmother Nell after her death when she realizes that she has inherited Nell’s cottage in London. It takes a while for her to discover the garden. It is truly forgotten and the estate which housed it has plenty of its own secrets which are chilling and heartbreaking at the same time. Certainly our gardens have history, but hopefully none like this one. You’ll like the characters Morton has created, well most of them anyway. Sweetness, bitterness, selfishness and love make these 550 pages fly. Make sure your hammock cradles you for The Forgotten Garden.

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