The Forgotten Garden

Our Readers’ Choice Good Read for August/September!

August/September’s Good Read!

Goodness, that was a long book! I listened to the audio and read the ebook edition of The Forgotten Garden, switching from one to the other depending on which was more practical at the time. I think this helped me immerse myself into such a lengthy book; something I haven’t done for years. I recommend this system for anyone who is a bit out of the habit of regular reading, as well as a way of getting a really rich reading experience. 

This was my first time reading a Kate Morton book and I would definitely try another. Her writing flows smoothly, and her descriptions were often lyrical and lovely. 

A story in which to immerse yourself

What I loved:

  • The different time settings (well, I would, wouldn’t I!) – Edwardian, 1970s and present day were all done equally well.
  • The descriptive writing – Ms Morton is not afraid to take her time over a scene. While this is part of the reason the book is so long, I think it pays off. Her settings are beautifully wrought. 
  • The main characters – Eliza, Nell and Cassandra were expertly portrayed, easy to tell apart, and stayed in character. All crucial aspects of storytelling when you have such a complex plot. 
  • The narrator – I enjoyed Caroline Lee’s soft Australian accent. It rooted the story, for me, as being properly Cassandras, first and foremost, and kept that present day link when we were in the past.

What I didn’t care for:

  • The pace – there were choices made with some of the chapters which slowed the progress of the book down significantly. Even allowing for descriptive passages, things could have moved quicker.
  • The Fairytales – these didn’t hold my interest and I found myself skimming through them.
  • The Cornish accents – the narrator tried hard, but ended up with a sort of generalised rural burr. 
  • The length – with so many plot strands to keep in my head I worried that I’d forget some because it was taking me so long to read the book.
  • Some research – being picky here (and God knows I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself), but the walls around London Victorian terraced house gardens would have been brick, not stone, and Brecon Cathedral is in Wales, not Scotland!

In summary, I really enjoyed being in the world of The Forgotten Garden, and spending time with the characters. I loved the language and the settings of time and place. I would definitely recommend this as a great winter read to settle in to. I think I might even treat myself to another Kate Morton book for the Christmas holidays. 

What did you think? Did the length of the book bother you? How did you find the complexities of the plot and the multiple timelines? Who was your favourite character? Did you work out the secrets in the story? Do you think they could have been different or more impactful? Let’s hear your thoughts!

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Cindy Johnson
Cindy Johnson
1 month ago

I’m glad you enjoyed it. This was the first one I read, and I thought it would be my favorite, until I read The Secret Keeper and The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Now it’s more like a three-way tie, but I think all her books are exceptional. While they are lengthy, I love her imagery, but what I love most is that you think you know what will happen, but you really don’t. There are always twists.

Paula
Paula
Reply to  Cindy Johnson
1 month ago

Now I will have to look at those two!

Ann Lozier
Ann Lozier
1 month ago

I was less than thrilled with this pick. I read all my books alternating between the ebook and audio — I listen whilst driving, cooking, etc. When I have time to sit, I read. As you noted, the narrator was not getting the accents correct and it was annoying.

I have no trouble with long books — I just finished and loved a 600+ page book. One of my biggest complaints about your books, Paula, is that they are not long enough! LOL! 🙂 But, I struggled to finish this one. As you said, the pacing was off. I love descriptive books, especially when the prose gets lyrical, so it’s not the descriptions that bothered me. It just seems that some sections were hurried while others took too long.

I also figured out the “twist” about 1/2 way through. I only continued reading to find out what exactly happened to Eliza.

I didn’t find the characters were well developed at all and that is something I find really important in my books. I need to know the characters, flaws and all, and still like them despite their imperfections. But, the characters were either all good or all bad. Not much of that grey area.

For me, so many things just did not make sense. Why on earth would Nell’s father decide to tell her that secret (don’t want to put in too many spoilers) when he did! And, then to withhold the suitcase until after his death? Makes no sense. I also don’t understand why Nell would react as she did and distance herself so much. And, just because she took Cassandra in WHY did that prevent her from continuing her search for her roots?

For me, this was a disappointing read and I don’t think I will be reading more of Kate Morton’s books. But, at least I was able to finish it, which I could not do with last book pick! LOL!

Looking forward to reading The Witch’s Knight! I’ve been waiting for the audio book!!

Paula
Paula
Reply to  Ann Lozier
1 month ago

I agree with much of what you say, Ann. For me, the plot holes mattered less than the pacing issues. But I forgave much of both because of the style of writing, which I enjoyed.
Well done for soldiering on! And I promise you I’ll make my next book longer, just for you!

Damara Marinello
Damara Marinello
1 month ago

I agree with you on your point of length. I don’t mind long books, most of the time I never want them to end! However, I found myself losing interest at times because it drew on a bit much. I was waiting for those bits to tie in, but they never really did. I like Kate Morton. I’ve read several of her books. But, I have also put several of her books down half way through too because I just couldn’t stay “in” it. It was a good story and I liked this book

Last edited 1 month ago by Damara Marinello
Paula
Paula
Reply to  Damara Marinello
1 month ago

Thanks for this, it’s really interesting how different people react to the same book, isn’t it? It does seem that quite a number of people had an issue with pacing. It was a really successful book, so evidently lots of readers loved it!

Rochelle Hickey
Rochelle Hickey
28 days ago

It took me too long to finish but I finally did this morning! Large books don’t scare me away but unfortunately, I was unable to get the audiobook version so it took me even longer to read. This book had been on my TBR for a while and I was so excited it was chosen for the book club read. Wow, that ending. It really pulled everything together and pulled at your heartstrings. I did figure out who Nell’s mother was before the Mary plot but I did not guess Eliza’s ending. I thought the timelines worked well with each other but sometimes I did forget which year I read and confused Nell and Cassandra a few times. I actually really liked the fairy tales mixed in and was a little disappointed we didn’t get more of them. It made the whole story feel more like a fairy tale. I did get major “The Secret Garden” vibes between a girl who lost her parents and moved to a manor, a sickly child who couldn’t go out, a garden revived with the help of a friend, etc. so having the fairy tales made it magical instead of gothic. Of course, once the characters grew up “The Secret Garden” vibes quickly disappeared. I really enjoyed this book and wished I had more than a few minutes at a time to read it.

Paula
Paula
Reply to  Rochelle Hickey
22 days ago

I am so glad you enjoyed it! I believe Miss Morton has described it as ‘inspired by’ The Secret Garden. xx