Review: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (audiobook)

03 Mar

The Forgotten GardenMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The book got off to a slow start for me.  I enjoyed the middle, but lost interest somewhat by the end.  I suspect at least some of my issues were due to listening rather than reading the printed version.

From Goodreads:

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, a maze, an aristocratic family, a love denied, a mystery – The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, ghosts, family and memories from best-selling author Kate Morton.

Thirty-eight year old Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything known and dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace Rutherford – the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century – as well as a cliff-top cottage on the other side of the world, Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell, on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

There were just so many characters, so many time periods, so much story, it all kind of muddled together. In this case, I think the problem was exacerbated by the audio book. Every time the scene shifted, I had to struggle to figure out exactly where I was.

I did find the story engaging, but not worth the effort.

I suspect I would have enjoyed the print version more– it would have passed faster, even with flipping pages to figure out what era this or that minor character was from, or to get my bearings when I picked up mid chapter.

I still don’t think I would have loved it, since none of the characters really grabbed me, even when I found them interesting. I also found the plot fairly predictable. While writing this, I’m beginning to wonder what I liked about the book!  I did enjoy it somewhat though, and I never really disliked it, even when I was frustrated.

I think the strength of this book was in the setting and the descriptive language, which were beautifully presented. I wish I’d appreciated them more.

Audio Notes

Narrator: Caroline Lee was a pleasant and competent narrator, but The Forgotten Garden required an extraordinary one.  I wouldn’t hesitate to listen to a more straightforward  book presented by her.

Production:  Again, I think this book would have benefited from a more complex production, something to give audio cues as to which time period each section belonged to.   My first thought is multiple narrators, but that could get tricky. There isn’t any way of getting around this being a long audiobook– over 20 hours.  There wasn’t anything wrong with this production, but it still didn’t quite work for me.

Print vs. Audio:  I’d stick to print on this one.


Posted by on March 3, 2011 in books, reviews


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5 responses to “Review: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (audiobook)

  1. RFW

    March 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I read it – turning actual pages – and was captivated. She has another – The House at Riverton – would be more fun to read than listen since it involved shorthand.

  2. Mrs. Q: Book Addict

    March 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I read this one, and really loved it. I have a hard time with audiobooks, and I can’t even imagine trying to get through this one. I agree, lots of characters, and time periods. It did seem lengthly, but reading it helped. I was able to skim certain sections.

  3. Playing Librarian

    March 5, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    I’ve read this book and enjoyed it as well. I guess this type of story works better on printed page.

    By the way, just found your blog and I’m your new follower =)

  4. pk reeves

    March 6, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Like Mrs Q I loved this book but it is a very intensely long long read. You have to persevere and the audio would have to be a very long one seeing as it a huge tome.

  5. Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

    March 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I have this one on my to-buy pile, the hard copy, not the audio copy. I think that Morton’s writing style is probably best appreciated in written form; for instance, I can’t imagine The Distant Hours in audiobook format, but in written format, every time I opened the page to read again, it was like saying hello to an old friend 🙂


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