It is 1913 and a small child is found all alone on the dock at Maryborough, Australia, having stepped off the boat from England. All she has with her is a small white suitcase, a few items of clothes and a book of fairy tales. When she is asked her name, her only response is to shake her head.
The present day, and Cassandra is in the hospital with her elderly grandmother, Nell, with whom she lives and works. On her deathbed, she utters a few words, which to Cassandra make no sense…not yet, at any rate.
In the weeks after Nell’s passing, Cassandra learns that she has inherited two very unexpected things from her grandmother: a cottage in Cornwall, in the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, and a quest to find out who Nell really was and where she came from. However, it is not only Nell’s story that we see unfold, it is her granddaughter’s too.
With elements of historical fiction and mystery, The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, emotional read. As the intertwined stories unravel, we begin to understand why a small child travelled half way round the world, all alone, nearly one hundred years before.
The descriptions of the settings, especially of the rugged Cornish landscape, are evocative and dramatic, alongside which the characters come to life with vivid realism. The story flows with ease as we jump between different time periods, perspectives and personal stories, which together reveal what happened all those years ago.
As we weave between the past and the present we encounter love, loss, forgiveness, desperation, secrets, fear, fairy tales and many more things besides adding layers of drama and detail to such a well-told story.
I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more by this author.