Welcome one and all to my beach hut

Grab a deck chair, Tea or coffee and help yourself to a buiscuit but you'd better mind the seaguls or they'll grab them first. Just look at that view and doesn't the sea look inviting.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Reading Matters - Kate Morton

Kate Morton is relatively new to the scene. I picked her second novel ‘The Forgotten Garden’ just over a year ago and enjoyed it very much. Then recently Skegness Library Book Club chose it for there book of the month.

Having read it before much of the story I soon recalled but being as we were to review it after reading I studied it much more closely and became really enthralled in its content so much so that I decided that I must read her first novel next, something I tend not to do.

Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of southeast Queensland, Australia. She has degrees in Dramatic Art and English Literature and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland. Kate lives with her husband and two young sons in Brisbane.
Kate Morton's books have been published in 31 countries. The House at Riverton was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller in the UK in 2007 and a New York Times bestseller in 2008. The Shifting Fog (know The House of Riverton) won General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards. Was nominated for Most Popular Book at the British Book Awards in 2008. Her second book, The Forgotten Garden, was a No1 bestseller in Australia and a Sunday Times No1 bestseller in the UK in 2008.

‘Forgotten Garden’ has been likened to a fairy tale and certainly for me it was very magical. One of the characters in the book is referred to as the Authoress who was famous for her Fairy tales, some of which are included in the narrative. The story begins in the early part of the 20th Century with a small girl left on a liner bound from England to Australia, all she has with her when she arrives is a small suitcase containing some clothes and a small book of fairy tales. The harbour master takes her in as one of his own whilst he waits for someone to claim her, but no one does. The small girl has no knowledge of this until her 21st birthday when her adopted father reveals the secret. The girl spends the next 60 years trying to discover her past, and this in turn lead’s her granddaughter to follow in her footsteps that will eventually change both there lives. It is clear that Kate has read very extensively, there are traces of Dickens in the tale of s young child growing up in Victorian London and you feel that you are in the familiar tale of Frances Hodgson’s ‘The Secret Garden’ much later in the tale. This book will appeal to anyone who has delved back into their own family history. Where and who the Childs family are is a real mystery which will lead you to and both the grandmother and granddaughter across the seas to Cornwall and a  small cliff top cottage overlooking a forgotten garden that can only be reached through a maze near a small Cornish fishing village. Who was the authoress? Who was the little girl’s parents? The mystery as many turns and will keep you guessing right to the end.

‘The House At Riverton’ is very different to the story I have just reviewed, though there are some similarities. The story also commences in the early part of the 20th Century. The narrator now in her 90s takes us back to when she was just 14 and starting out in service at Riverton. We follow her has she moves from being a house maid and her first involvements with those upstairs to her eventual becoming ladies Maid to one of  the daughters of the master of the house and estate.

This is a story of changing times and to a class structure that is drawing to its end. If you enjoy TV series like Upstairs & Downstairs and Downton Abbey then you will very much enjoy this novel, we see how the First World War affected both those upstairs and downstairs and how the balance of life changed because of it. There is a mystery concerning a death on the estate that will keep you guessing to the end. There is a love story and a story of youngsters growing up in the 20s and 30s with wild parties in London and the difficulties of maintaining the life style of the gentry. Has someone who as read much about the time and of families like the Mitford’s I found the narrative both believing and absorbing. Nearing the end I found it very hard to put this book down.

I will definitely read more from this author.

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