The Forgotten Garden for one of my book clubs, (although it was already on my shelf from those days when it was the latest thing and I was entranced by the cover anyhow,) and in a couple of ways it felt like a blast from the past. (I wanted to wait until my book club met before posting about it, but everyone has been swamped with school, thus the meeting has been put off until next month. I was already halfway through the book when I found out, and couldn't put off finishing it, so I thought it fitting not to put off posting about it either.)
When I was younger, I loved mysteries. I loved the way they made me think--those hours at school when I was forced to get my nose out of the book left thoughts swirling through my head and crowding out my teacher's voice. I've never been so great about actually figuring out the mystery, but that's because the answer isn't what I was after--what thrilled me were the possibilities. Like so many Christmas gifts under a tree.
I've had intermittent mystery obsessions over the years: a Nancy Drew obsession when I was young developed into a Victoria Holt obsession as a hormonal teen, which then turned into a Mary Higgins Clark obsession as a very young adult. Since then, not so much. I've read one Agatha Christie, but that's about it. So what changed? Well I grew and discovered literary fiction/non-fiction, and the thrill of a whole new way to get my mind stirred up. The Forgotten Garden, while being a little more refined than the mysteries of my younger days, brought me back there all the same.
Another aspect that brought me back to my youth was the whole premise of the walled garden itself. I loved Frances Hodgson Burnett when I was young, checking out The Little Princess and The Secret Garden repeatedly from the library. They were books that stuck with me. I'm still fascinated by the idea of a walled, overgrown, garden: oh the possibilities! Kate Morton pays more-than-symbolic-homage to Burnett by actually including her in the book as a visitor to the estate...an inclusion I'm torn about. In a way it was kind of fun, but it also stood out as being a bit silly. In a book that did a good job with pace and flow, there were still a couple of things that stood out like that (like the use of "suddenly" at one point, which bugged me more than I thought it would: Suddenly, behind her, a crash. Not the worst "suddenly" sentence ever, but still.)
The fluctuating timeline worked well for the unveiling of the story, and the characters were all believable, though I prefer more depth. I enjoyed The Forgotten Garden; found it to be an above average read, but I'm not necessarily rushing out to find her other books. Have you read The House at Riverton or The Distant Hours? What did you think?
Title: The Forgotten Garden
Author: Kate Morton
Published: 2010 Washington Square Press (orig. 2008)
Read For: Book Club (& books on my shelf for 1 year +)
My Rating: 3.5 stars