Here goes another one of my half-assed book reviews...
Let me start with this horrible fact about myself: I judge books by their covers. I always have. Luckily for me, lots of different kinds of covers appeal to me, so I am tempted to pick up even the single-colored generic looking titles. This book, however, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, caught my eye because I am currently head-over-heels obsessed with cottages. Double points if they are made of stone. Triple points if they are seculded in their own magical garden. And that's what was on the cover of this hefty paperback. So I bought it. Not ever having heard of it, and without any idea as to what story it held inside it's lovely cover.
And sometimes, things are just meant to be. I was supposed to read this book at the very time that I did. I'm not saying that this is the most fantastic book I have ever read in my life-- but it had a significant meaning to me (a strange, almost spooky coincidence that would not add to the book for anyone but me, I imagine). And that made it an extra-special read.
The story was a good one. It was full of secrets and twists-- most of which were pretty predictable, but figuring them out before the author lays it down is half the fun. I enjoyed the multi-generational perspective and developed a substantial girl crush on who I consider to be the main character (Eliza). Course, I think that was what the author intended, as almost every charater in the book loved her as well... almost everyone.
This book reminded me a lot of the last book I read, The Thirteenth Tale. In fact, I predict that in a few years when I look back on either book I will get the two confused. If this sort of thing happens to you too, and you want to read both books, I'd recommend spacing them out a bit. Like The Thirteenth Tale, much of The Forgotten Garden takes place on a huge English estate. This one, Blackhurst Manor, is in far better repair than the one from the other story, and sits on the coast of Cornwall. The estate, and the gardens (especially the part of the estate that is depicted on that cover I raved about earlier) are really more like characters than setting. They had just as much influence and charisma as the people in the tale, and were described with such loving detail throughout the ages that I felt present while reading.
For anyone interested in reading the book, or if you already have and you just want a bit more (I get that way a lot with books, I am hungry for more story, even after it's all said and done) I recommend visiting the author's page (or the Authoress, I guess I should call her). It's gives little tidbits as to what the story is about (since I realize I have not spoke of plot at all) and you can listen to her read the first chapter. There are lots of other fun links... like to the real-life estate that inspired Morton to create Blackhurst. It's called Heligan, and I just found out that it allows visitors, so I think I have my next dream vacation all planned out. In fact, the place looks so awesome, I might have to give it its own Happy post.