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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 August 2014
This story which jumps between three different time periods is a really great read. At its heart, there is the mystery of why a young girl is left alone on board a ship about to sail from England to Australia just a couple of years before the First World War, left alone by a mysterious lady she knows as "the authoress". That young girl grows up and builds a life in Australia, although she is always curious about her roots, and the second time period deals with her attempt to find out about the truth of her childhood in the 1970s. Finally, in the 21st century, the grand-daughter of the girl on the ship is drawn to the mystery after the death of her grandmother in the third line within this fascinating story. It's a long book at over 600 pages, but it's an easy read which never drags. The author cleverly weaves the story between the different time lines, revealing things in one time line that help the reader to understand something that has happened in another. The main characters, Eliza, Nell and Cassandra were well-drawn and three dimensional, although I found some of the minor characters had slightly less depth. The descriptions of Cornwall, where much of the story takes place, were excellent and really evocative of that beautiful county, and this would make a great holiday read if you are heading in that direction, or even if you are off somewhere else. Thoroughly recommended - I loved it!
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on 5 October 2012
"Three is the number of time, for do we not speak of past present and future? Three is the number of family, for do we not speak of mother, father and child? Three is the number of fairy, for do we not seek them between oak, ash and thorn?"

These words found preceding the first chapter of the book summarize the importance of the number 3.

The book is divided into 3 time periods, the beginning of the 20th century, the 1970's, and the early years of the 21st century...and not in that order.

The story moves between 3 places.... a poverty stricken part of London where children are bullied into work, the magical mists of Cornwall hiding the secrets of the past, and down to earth, practical Australia.....not in that order.

It relates to 3 generations of a family.

Fragments of the fairy stories written by Eliza Makepeace are printed as part of the book and in some measure reflect the allegorical nature of the main story. Fairies and magic, and good and evil emerge in unexpected ways with unexpected twists to the plot. The maze that is part of Blackhurst Manor in Cornwall is a symbol of how complicated the plot is

Creativity is an ever present theme which enriches the story whether through fairy story writing, drawing, book illustrating, gardening or antique collecting. The characters seek reto validate their identity through creative self expression

And what is the main story? Its about Nell's search for her family roots, continued through the efforts of her grand-daughter, Cassandra..

I found it very difficult to put the book down....
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on 4 April 2017
Having read The House at Riverton, I looked forward to reading this book by the same author. The idea of a secret garden caught the imagination and Kate's ability to involve the reader, excellent. Unfortunately the constant change from one era to another with changing characters meant that returning to the book after a few days, I had to look back to reorientate myself, and it disrupted the flow. Otherwise a very enjoyable story.
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on 22 December 2012
I can't add much of substance to what many others have said but I thought it worth recording where I stand, as there are widely different views on this book. As my three stars indicate, I'm in the middle in terms of rating - but well in the minority in terms of views here. The novel's perfectly readable in a rather light way and although it is quite long I didn't find it took very long to read. The problem for me was that the characters and plot didn't engage me as much as many (including KM's earlier "The House at Riverton") One particular disappointment, which I see is shared by others, was that the solution to the "mystery" is predictable well before the end. In fact, I couldn't believe that KM hadn't intended that readers should think this and that there was to be a further twist, but not so. I didn't have problems with the different timelines although I agree the essentials of the middle (1975) line might have been absorbed elsewhere. So, a pleasant enough way to spend a few hours but don't expect to be challenged.
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on 10 December 2012
I have never read this author before but thought the reviews were good and the story sounded promising so I took the plunge. I have only had my Kindle 10 days and have not put it down since I started reading this book. It has been with me at every tea break, lunchbreak, quiet moment and to the detriment of just about anything else. A real page turner that just kept me wanting to know what happens next in this convoluted storyline.

From the start where a little 4 year old girl is alone on a liner bound for Australia, I felt the stomach churning uncertainty and fear of that child suddenly alone. The writer made me experience the wonder of the walled garden and the satisfaction of something so right, the moment the story concludes so neatly. The clever bit is there is not really one central character but several who all hold their place in the story and have familial connection through history as the storyteller weaves her magic of tales within tales spanning the decades.

If I have any criticism it is to say it does leap around the century a bit which might leave you wondering where you are in the timeline and having to remember something you maybe read yesterday in another chapter. The story keeps all the timelines going at the same pace and so sometimes it is hard to keep track of the family tree. I did find myself forgetting which relation/timeline I was dealing with when I left the book overnight but solved it with a bit of paper and a family tree of characters I could glance at to keep pace with the tale. I loved all the twists and turns of the plot, the maze of dead ends the story takes you and even though I kind of guessed how it would end about three quarters through the book, it was still a great novel.

I am now going to read her other book which I hope will be as enthralling as this and wait for her next offering.
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on 5 December 2013
I really enjoyed this book, but although it was meant to be historical fiction there was very little history in it unless you count the family background. I enjoyed the fact that you viewed the story from a variety of different perspectives from the same member of a family over a period of time - and although only some of the family relationships are mentioned to begin with they aren't that difficult to figure out. I would have liked to have read more about Australia at the beginning of the 1900's but this setting is a very minute part of the story with most of it being focused in Cornwall and parts of London. The story is over long in places with a little too much description, but at no point did I feel that the story dragged. It didn't necessarily have the happy ending which you expect but this just adds to the mystique of the story. The only downfall was that there wasn't enough of the fairy tales in the story which the Authoress had written. Cannot wait to read more by Kate Morton.
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on 13 February 2013
I loved this one too although I think I preferred the House At Riverton. You could get a little confused in this one as there were a lot more characters featured. Still beautifully told, though, and I had a good cry at the end too.
The whole story brought to mind The Secret Garden for me and Frances Hodgson Burnett is mentioned but it says in the book she's American. I looked it up and she was English but emigrated out there.
This book includes a children's fairy tale writer and in the book three of the fairy tales were included. They didn't need to be and I sort of had to wade through those a bit.
As with the House at Riverton there were the same mistakes with needless hyphens thrown in here and there. The only other mistake was paint was printed instead of part. Not sure what happened there.
Again, I liked one of her quotes in the story...."You make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing".
I would have like to have known more about Nell's husband and also Cassandra's but I suppose we'd have had to have a further 200 pages to squeeze it all in !!
All in all, another lovely read.
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on 11 October 2012
I have read all of Kate Morton's novels to date and am eagerly awaiting her new release, The Secret Keeper. While I wait I thought I would write a wee review on this, The Forgotten Garden, her second novel and my favorite to date. There are hundreds of reviews out there telling you the storyline so I just want to add how much I enjoy her writing and how the weaving of a fairytale through this story makes this one for me, so special. She takes you on a journey from England to Australia and back, over the last century spining the dual time frame stories as efficiently as if she were a circus act! Her writing is divine, her characters so compelling but for me it is the wee fairytale snippets which appear at intervals throughout this story, deftly entwined around the tale which makes it so special. Such taletelling reminds me of my youth and how I developed my love of reading and it must inspire our younger generation to pick up and read again, something which I feel has become a little lost since the development of technology and the mysterious world of gaming! I love her writing, for me it is nostalgic, old fashioned storytelling if you like sprinkled with a little magic, just how writing used to be, simply wonderful.
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on 14 November 2012
I picked this as I very much enjoyed The Secret Keeper by the same author and the book description sounded interesting. It was also at the bargain price of 69p!

At some 660 pages it is rather epic and it did take me a couple of starts at the first chapter to get into it. I did read the beginning and then start another book instead so it didn't grip me from the off as some books do. I do think the book could have improved with tighter editing and being a bit shorter. It was set in several timeframes including the 1890s, early 1900s, 1975 and 2005. It was maybe one timeframe and a few too many characters too many especially in the earliest timescale I was occasionally a bit confused as to which character was who. However those are my only real complaints. It was a good story and I liked the way the author brought in some real events from history into the plot - the maiden voyage of the Lusitania and the Ais Gill rail disaster for example.

I have rated it 4 stars as I could not put it in the same class as The Secret Keeper or some of my other favorite reads. However at a bargain price it is very well worth a read.
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on 19 August 2015
A girl of four arrives alone on a steamer from England to Maryborough, Australia. She has nothing but a small, white suitcase. The port master finds her and takes her in, always expecting someone to come and claim her. She grows into their hearts, and they decide to move to Brisbane, where they can pass her off as a daughter, naming her Nell. It is only on her twenty-first birthday that she learns of her origin.

This triggers a need in Nell to find out how and why she was abandoned. The story is cleverly woven around three characters: Nell, her granddaughter Cassandra, and Eliza, a girl at the turn of the twentieth century in London. We are also given a detailed look at the wonderfully eccentric Mountrachet family in early twentieth century Cornwall. The narrative moves between three main time periods, picking up the threads of each story as it goes. All of the main characters come across as real people with real concerns, and the settings are beautifully evoked, especially in Cornwall.

There is constant movement between the time periods, each chapter revealing a morsel of truth about how Nell came to be on the steamship. The shifts in time are smoothly handled and provide perfect opportunities to inject suspense into the story. The writing is smooth and confident, making for an easier read than one might expect from such a complex novel. It also manages to be a page-turner, though it is far from being a thriller. The reader is always eager to find the next piece in the jigsaw of history the makes up the lives of the main characters.

It is altogether a highly enjoyable read.
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