The Forgotten Garden (2009) by Kate Morton is reminiscent of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911) for just a few pages. Burnett appears in the novel only long enough to get inspiration for her classic story.
The Forgotten Garden drifts between the lives of Nell and her granddaughter Cassandra, as they both search for Nell’s true origins. Nell starts her search in late middle life when her father dies and finally tells her that she was found on the docks of Brisbane in 1913 and raised to be his own. Just as Nell is close to finding her family in Cornwall, Cassandra is left to stay with Nell. When Nell dies, Cassandra learns that her Grandmother owned a house in Cornwall and so her search begins.
The novel spans nearly 100 years as Morton takes us through the lives of five generations of women, starting in Edwardian England replete with Jack the Ripper and an “Authoress” that spins Grimm-like fairy tales and ending in contemporary Cornwall. This novel draws the reader in and leads you through the garden maze to an ending that is only a little surprising.