North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Novel tells of belated self-discovery


August 25, 2010

Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden

By Kate Morton

($15.00, Washington Square Press)

In 1913 a ship from London arrives in Australia. When all the passengers have disembarked, a young girl is found alone on the dock. The dockmaster takes the abandoned girl home to his wife, who desperately wants a child.

While he makes some attempts to locate her family, they are happy raising the child they call Nell. He delights in reading to her from a book of fairytales found in the suitcase she had with her.

All is well until she turns 21 and he feels she should know the truth. This simple honesty affects her severely; it changes her life and the way she views the family she thought she'd been born into - it seems to effect her sense of self.

Nell eventually does look for the truth about her childhood, her parents, why she was on that ship alone. She is drawn away from it when her own grandchild, Cassandra, is abandoned to her care, and she chooses to raise her. After Nell's death, Cassandra is drawn back to that suitcase and explores the thread of her past for which Nell was searching. She finds a cottage and a maze, which have been interwoven in this story; and she finds a walled garden and the truth about Nell's mother.

This story has its basis in that of Kate Morton's own grandmother, who learned at that same age that she was not who she thought she was, and held that secret close until she was very old. Kate saw how it effected her "sense of self," changing everything for her. It is a well-told story that follows its own maze, coming out to reveal what we realize in The Forgotten Garden.

You can find a copy of this book at your library or your local independent bookstore. Please support them so that they can be there for you the next time you need them. Comments or suggestions are welcome at


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