The Forgotten Garden
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-first 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.
Reading Group Guide
1. On the night of Nell’s twenty-first birthday, her father Hugh tells her a secret that shatters her sense of self. How important is a strong sense of identity to a person’s life? Was Hugh right to tell her about her past? How might Nell’s life have turned out differently had she not discovered the truth?
2. Did Hugh and Lil make the right decision when they kept Nell?
3. How might Nell’s choice of occupation have been related to her fractured identity?
4. Is it possible to escape the past, or does one’s history always find a way to revisit the present?
5. Eliza, Nell and Cassandra all lose their birth mothers when they are still children. How are their lives affected differently by this loss? How might their lives have evolved had they not had this experience?
6. Nell believes that she comes from a tradition of “bad mothers.” Does this belief become a self-fulfilling prophecy? How does Nel see more