Kate Morton Triple Play
December 6, 2011
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This past year my book club read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. It was our summer selection. We do meet during the summer but in an effort to be lighter and more carefree we generally read short stories or light fare. I thought it would be a great idea to present a 560 page novel to the group for the summer and gave them two months to read it. For some it seemed like an impossible task maybe even felt like homework. Everyone grumbled but everyone read it……and loved it……and wanted more. I had actually read the book the summer before and needed to refresh my memory. I went to the library to get a copy of The Forgotten Garden but they didn’t have it. What they did have was the newest novel by Kate Morton, The Distant Hours and so I took that home. Frankly, I liked it more than The Forgotten Garden. I literally was consumed by the book. Now having read two of her books; I went back to the library and got her first one, The House at Riverton. I just had to read them all.
We did discuss The Forgotten Garden, not in July as planned, but in September with everyone agreeing that it was worth the BIG read. I told everyone about the other two of Morton’s books and recommended they give them a try. This past weekend, at our Christmas party, I found out that many of the women took me up on my suggestion and did read the other books. In fact, the book grab bag included one copy of The Distant Hours. Kate Morton’s books were quite the buzz which made me want to share these books with you too.
The House at Riverton (A) begins in 1999 as Grace Bradley, who now lives in a nursing home, starts to journal her memories of working for the Hartford Family at Riverton house soon after the end of World War I. No one lives in the house now. It has remained vacant since the death of R. S. Hunter; a death that was believed to be a suicide. The story has attracted the attention of a movie director who decides to make a film about the Hartford family. The story is told in flashbacks shifting from present day Grace as she works with the film director to Grace remembering back to her days at Riverton. Filled with secrets and suspense, The House at Riverton is a captivating novel that keeps the reader to the very last page.
The Forgotten Garden (B+) spans decades from Victorian England to Brisbane, Australia in 2005. Nell is abandoned on a ship traveling from England to Brisbane. Upon the ships arrival in Brisbane, the captain of the vessel, takes Nell home and raises her as his own. Only years later does Nell discover that she is not his natural child. As an adult her past haunts her and as she plans to leave for England to research her history, her granddaughter, Cassandra, is abandoned by her mother and Nell must stay in Brisbane to raise her. Upon Nell’s death, Cassandra inherits a cottage in Cornwall surrounded by a forgotten garden where all the family secrets are revealed. The Forgotten Garden is historical fiction at its best.
The Distant Hours (A+) starts slowly and builds to an amazing story of intrigue, mystery and more secrets than either of the above mentioned Morton books. Edie is a young editor who is fascinated by a book called The Mud Man. Researching the book leads her to Middlehurst Castle where the author Raymond Blythe’s family live. Raymond is long gone but his daughters Percy and Saffy are still in residence. While taking a tour of the castle, a third sister Juniper makes herself known to Edie. Juniper thinks she knows Edie but Edie has never seen her before. So the mystery begins. Why is Juniper so sure she knows Edie? Why does Percy almost dare Edie to come back and get more information about the castle? Why did Percy and Saffy never marry and what does Edie’s mom know about this family that she has never shared? Morton is great at spinning an elaborate tale and The Distant Hours is one of the best I have read in a very long time. Be sure to clear your calendar for this one.
Perhaps you are looking for a book for yourself for the long winter ahead or maybe you are gifting books to someone. Choosing one of these would be a good idea; getting all three would be even better. Be sure to let me know what you think.