The Forgotten Garden: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is set in England and Australia.  In 1913 a ship docked in Australia, everyone disembarked and left, everyone but a tiny little girl who did not know her parents surname or where they could be reached.  Her only possession was a small suitcase with a remarkable book of fairy tales. Hugh, the dock master, took her home, after all he couldn’t leave her sitting outside alone on the dock!  His wife desperately wanted a child, as the days passed and no one claimed the little girl, they named her Nell and she became the first of their children. Over time Nell’s memory of her origins was replaced by the memories of growing up with her Australian family.  She was such a little tyke when she was found by Hugh, that it was expected she would forget. 

When Nell turned 21, Hugh determined to tell her what he knew about her origins.  It changed everything for Nell, she no longer felt tethered to her life, part of a family, now she felt other, adrift and alone.  The distance his disclosure created between Nell and her Australian family broke Hugh’s heart.  When he died, one of her sisters delivered to her the small suitcase.  Memories of a woman, the authoress, started coming back. 

In the 1970’s Nell traveled to England, determined to find out who she really was, but other obligations prevented continuing the pursuit of her origins.  When Nell dies in 2005, her granddaughter Cassandra was shocked to discover what little was known about Nell’s birth family, Nell had kept the knowledge a secret shared only with her father, Hugh. Cassandra and Nell lived together in Brisbane where they ran an antique shop. Without Nell, there was nothing tying Cassandra down, Nell had raised her since she was a little girl.  She determines to retrace Nell’s steps to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish Coast and unlock he secrets of the past. 

— Deon Stonehouse

May 2009 Indie Next List

“The Forgotten Garden slides back and forth through time, telling the secrets of women, English and Australian, and their link to a wondrous garden on a Cornish estate. Relax and enjoy -- this is a marvelous read.”
— Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Winter 2011 Reading Group List

“This novel of abandonment and identity beautifully echoes Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic, The Secret Garden. The gothic twists and turns of the plot will keep readers guessing to the end. A very rich, complex, and satisfying read!”
— Lisa Wright, Oblong Books And Music,LLC., Millerton, NY


From the New York Times bestselling author of Homecoming comes a novel that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through generations and across continents as two women try to uncover their family’s secret past.

A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, 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. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

About the Author

Kate Morton is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, The Lake House, and The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Her books are published in thirty-eight languages and have been #1 bestsellers worldwide. Born and raised in Australia, she holds degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and now lives with her family in London and Australia. Visit her online at or on Facebook and Instagram at @KateMortonAuthor.

Praise For…

“A long, lush, perfectly escapist read.”
The Daily News (NY)
— The Daily News

“Morton whisks the reader into scene after vivid scene, sometimes frightening us, often perplexing us, and always providing us with a great deal of entertainment.”
Star Telegram (Fort Worth, TX)
— Ft. Worth Star Telegram
Product Details
ISBN: 9781416550556
ISBN-10: 1416550550
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: February 16th, 2010
Pages: 560
Language: English