I’ve long admired an author who can weave a story of two time periods into a seamless ride that doesn’t make you feel like you are spinning in one of the teacups in Disneyland. I loved People of the Book and The Thirteenth Tale for that reason, and now I can add Kate Morgan’s The Forgotten Garden to the list. And get this: Morton crafts a story of three time zones, an even more admirable feat, I think.
And here’s why.
We authors lure you into our fictive world by creating a character in a certain time and space and we entice you to care about them. It is incredibly important that you care about them; that’s what keeps you turning pages. When we create a second storyline in second time zone, we are now asking you not to split your character loyalty in half, but to double your capacity for character loyalty. Add a third character in a third time zone and now we ask you to triple it.
It’s a tall order. And when someone can pull it off, I think that’s a feat worth mentioning.
The Forgotten Garden begins at the turn of the century in an Australian port where a four-year-old has been found alone on ship that originated in London. Unable to give her name or any other identifying information, she is taken in by the childless harbormaster and his wife. When someone comes looking for the child many months later, well after the harbormaster and his wife have grown to love the child, they move away with her and try for decades to pretend she was always theirs. Upon the harbormaster’s deathbed, the girl-now-older-woman learns the truth and so begins her and reader’s journey to find out who she is and how she ended up on a boat, all alone with nothing but a tiny suitcase and a book of fairy tales.
In addition to the clever story construction, I was also thoroughly impressed with Morton’s committment to making every chapter stand-alone sweet. It’s easy, once you have story momentum going, to minimize the care and labor you spend on those supporting chapters that just provide a momentary rest stop for the real plot line. Morton peppered her pages with nuggets of story all over the place. I admire that. She could’ve saved those images for her next book, and made them stars in their own right. But she gifted them to the reader inside a story that was already intruiguing.
You can read an excerpt here:
See you on Friday.