Friday, February 18, 2011

The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)

In my last post, I stated how rare it is for me to review two books in a row by the same author. I have never, since this blog has been existence, reviewed three in a row...until today. This is Morton's last book, so after this, it is on to other authors. It is with all anticipation that I wait for her next masterpiece.

The Forgotten Garden begins with an old woman on her deathbed. Nell dies with a family mystery she has never been able to solve. On her eighteenth birthday, the man who she knew as her father tells her a shocking secret. He found her abandoned when she was a four year old child on a dock in Australia. How did she end up alone there? The mystery, of course, is solved in the end, as is Morton's way, but it astonishes me, in all of her books, how she gets there. Morton changes chapter by chapter from the early 1900s to the 1970s to 2005, and never misses a beat. We hear the story told through the eyes of all different characters, including Nell's granddaughter, her mother, and a mysterious woman known as the Authoress. Just when you think that a question you had at the beginning will not be answered, it does at a different point of time. I can only imagine that Morton has a giant flowchart for all of her books, as she is the most talented author I have ever read at being able to bring everything back full circle.

The Forgotten Garden would have gotten a 5 if I had read it first. While not my favorite of her three, she is, by far, one of the most talented literary forces we have today.


My favorite month of the year is coming up! Why?? March is the month when Jodi Picoult releases her books. I will have a review soon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The House at Riverton (Kate Morton)

It is quite rare for me to review two books in a row by the same author. I am not one to read a book, and then run out to buy the next one if I like the style. I really don't know why it took me so long to discover Kate Morton (The House at Riverton was her debut, published in 2006), but I am so glad I did.

Narrated by Grace Bradley, a housemaid at Riverton House beginning when she was just a girl, The House at Riverton spans decades. Grace desperately wants her grandson (who has disappeared) to see her before she dies, so she makes him a set audiotapes about her past. She went to work at Riverton when she was fourteen and became entrenched in the goings-on of the House. From the servants to the family to outsiders (or so they seem), every character is important. Grace becomes deeply involved in the lives of the Riverton children, especially the sisters Hannah and Emmeline. However, World War I service meant sacrificing your own life for those you served. Will Grace ever get a life of her own? What really happened in that house? Will Grace die before seeing her beloved grandson? What really happened at the lake, where we learn early on that a character took his own life?

Morton loves her early twentieth century Gothic English estates, as do I. What is most fascinating about her novels is that we find out many plot points early on; however, we don't know how it gets to that point (or if the early plot point is even true), until we get there. Settle in for a deeply layered read that will keep you glued to every page.