The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is one of those reads. Its an intriguing mystery, a well-paced tale, a wonderfully worded story.
From the back cover:
A tiny girls is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes amd a single book-a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in nu the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truthg, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But, it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled.
The novel begins and ends with Nell, the center of the story, as she accompanies The Authoress onto boat seemingly to meet her parents wherever the boat leads. We follow Nell's story through her own eyes, but also through the eyes of Eliza, her "aunt", Cassandra, her granddaughter, and Rose, her "mother" as they tell their own stories. There are three main narratives in this book: Nell's during her middle-aged years, Cassandra's immediately after her grandmother dies, and Eliza's starting during her childhood. Through these accounts we start to piece together the mystery of who Nell really is.
Although I love Morton's story, it is clear that her strength is in the storytelling portion, and not her characterizations. Her character development seemed to be a bit flat and two-dimensional. Her interactions between Cassandra and others was short, flat, and a bit fake-sounding. However, the way she writes the thoughts and private musings of her characters more than makes up for the characters. The way she describes physical settings and private emotions gives the reader an extremely vivid picture of what Morton is picturing; she is excellent at descriptions and at showing situation analysis. Those are what kept me turning the pages.
Morton has written a beautiful story worthy of the coziest rainy days, the sunniest excursions to the beach, and every reading place in between. Its well-paced, the characters are fairly well developed, and there are enough little suprises along the way to keep even the most-experienced mystery readers guessing at the details.
I hope you all enjoy this novel as much as I did!