The Forgotten Garden

Written by Kate Morton
Review by Marina Oliver

In 1913 in London a little girl is abandoned on a ship taking emigrants to Australia. She can’t recall her name, only that she was put on the ship by ‘the authoress’ and is taken in by an Australian family. Many years later Nell goes to England to trace her roots but has to return to Australia with the task unfinished. Later still, after Nell’s death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, finds Nell has left her a Cornish cottage, so she too goes to England determined to solve the mystery of Nell’s origins and why she was abandoned on the ship.

Initially, I was frustrated by the frequent time and viewpoint shifts but became reconciled as the author cleverly weaves the gradual discovery of what happened into the stories, not only of Nell and Cassandra as they find clues, but also the other women involved in that long-ago mystery.

This is a gripping, delightful novel, depending for its charm less on the historical background of the different times, which is lightly sketched in, but on the twists and turns of the plot as the truth unfolds.