Saturday, September 5, 2009

gardens, forgotten and secret

Did any young girl not enjoy reading The Secret Garden at least once during her childhood?

It was required reading in my 4th grade class, and for some reason my parents bought me my own copy of the book. (Although avid readers and frequent library users, my parents didn't often purchase books.) I've treasured it and still have it on my bookcase at home.

Last week I finished reading Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden and was reminded of the beauty, excitement, and escape I experienced when reading The Secret Garden. Morton's story is beautiful and imaginative; the characters and the setting inhabited my thoughts constantly; and I really hated to part with it, even though its mysteriousness made it quite a page-turner.

The Forgotten Garden is a generational saga that spans the life of its main character, Nell, a girl who at the age of 4 was abandoned on a ship leaving England for Australia. On her eighteenth birthday, her "father", overcome with guilt at having kept her true identity secret all this time, tells Nell the truth. She is never the same. Over the course of her adult life, she delves into discovering who she is, and although she makes significant progress, discovering her true identity is a task left to her granddaughter, Cassandra, upon Nell's death.

As the chapters weave in and out of the present day, readers are transported with Nell and Cassandra to the brooding, almost cursed, Blackhurst Manor and the secrets of the Blackhurst family--and their impact on Nell's personal history--are slowly revealed.

It's clear that Frances Hogsdon Burnett's The Secret Garden was an inspiration to Morton in the creation of this story. (Burnett is even given a cameo appearance in the novel at a garden party.) I'm looking forward to rereading The Secret Garden here very soon.

The only thing that could make reading either of these stories even more enjoyable is having the option to read while lounging in a forgotten or secret garden of your discovery.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I just got this in on reserve...your post sold me on it...just have to finish the book for Book Club first though. Time is ticking on that one ;)