{The Forgotten Garden: A Book Review}

I could not put this book down! It was beautifully written, intertwined two of my favorite genres—historical and realistic fiction—and an homage to one of my favorite books from childhood, The Secret Garden. What more could I ask for?

Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden follows the story of 3 women, tied together through a mysterious quest to discover their identity. For Nell, this quest is literal. At her engagement party, her father informs her that he found her alone on a ship bound from England when she was a toddler. They searched for her guardian, but when no one came to claim her, they decided to take her as their own. Nell, understandably shaken by this discovery, becomes obsessed with figuring out where her true ancestry lies. Her search leads her to England, a fairy tale writer named Eliza Makepeace, and Eliza’s cousin, Rose Walker. Nell knows her roots lie somewhere with these two women, but her search is halted when her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes to live with her. Cassandra grows up ignorant of Nell’s secret past until Nell dies, and Cassandra discovers that she left her a cottage on the Cornish coast in her will. Cassandra, haunted by her own tragic past, is drawn by Nell’s search and makes it her mission to begin where Nell was forced to leave off.

What follows is a tale of heartache, family secrets, and acceptance as Cassandra strives to unravel the mystery. The story, however, is anything but linear—the reader glimpses all 3 protagonist’s perspectives, life’s events, and tragedies through intertwining storylines and time periods. This unique approach allows the reader to connect with all 3 women in a way that only one perspective would not have allowed and in my opinion, that is one of the novel’s strongest attributes.

I just started reading another of Kate Morton’s novels—The House at Riverton. Stay tuned!


{Friday Book Review}

Ella Enchanted

Happy Friday everyone!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a book review, so I figured it was about time I shared with the the book I just finished reading–Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. You’re probably thinking–isn’t that a kid’s book? In the education world, we would actually refer to it as a young adult or YA text, but, yes, technically it is. Our school has SSR (sustained silent reading) at the end of every school day, so I grabbed this book out of our classroom library to have something to read while my students read their books. And then I couldn’t put it down…

I’ve always had an affinity towards medieval based YA books so that genre, coupled with a strong female protagonist, makes this my perfect book. And for a YA book, it’s surprisingly adult.

It’s a retelling of classic Cinderella but it’s anything but classic.”The young protagonist, Ella, was given a “gift” at birth by a fairy to always be obedient and do what others tell her. Literally. The curse, coupled with her strong-willed, independent personality leads her to a lot of trouble, as I bet you can imagine. She’s spunky, fun, and totally lovable, and I honestly have loved every part of this book.

I actually have dreams of writing my own YA book, complete with magic and a strong female protagonist, of course, and this book has inspired me even more so to actually do just that. Hopefully that inspiration will continue onto Christmas Break when I actually would have time to do something like that.

Only time will tell, I suppose!

{The Help}

The Help

I could not put this book down! The characters were so human and intriguing, they felt like friends I had known my entire life by the end of the first chapter.

I first learned about this book when my brother called me the night before our mom’s birthday asking what he should get her…men. So I looked up the bestsellers list on amazon, saw this was number one, read a review or two, and told him to go get it for her. He ended up not buying it but the very next weekend, my sister was reading it while she was in town and ending up loving it, so I figured it was fate that I should read this book!

The story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, and follows the lives of 2 African American women–the “help”–and one white upper class young writer in search of an idea for her first novel. The story, however, is less about the novel and more about the everyday interaction between the white homeowners and the black help they depend on to run their household, a unique relationship defined by prejudice, fear, and, at times, admiration and even love.

If you just have time for one more book to read this summer, I would highly suggest The Help. Plus, the movie starring Emma Stone comes out on Friday and I always love comparing books to movie adaptations!

{The Winter Sea}

The Winter Sea

I just finished reading The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley and it was so good!! It’s historical fiction written from the perspective of a strong female narrative with more than a touch of romance–definitely my kind of book!

I’ve always loved historical fiction and Kearsley’s book was no exception. It tells the story of a modern day writer, Carrie, who travels to the coast of Scotland while researching her latest book. Of Scottish heritage herself, she decides to place one of her ancestors–Sophia–as her female protagonist. The book weaves back and forth between present day and Carrie’s novel as we learn that Carrie may be more connected to the past than she realized…

The story within the story revolves around Carrie’s ancestor, Sophia, who goes to live with a distant cousin in a castle also on the coast of Scotland. While she lives there, she not only becomes entrenched in the plot to restore exiled James I to the Scottish and subsequently, English, throne, but also falls for one of the plot’s most integral players–John Moray.

Do you want to read it yet?!

The story was beautifully written (and being an English major, I can be kind of a book snob!) and was definitely a page-turner, despite being a little over 500 pages. And although I correctly guessed the ending with about 200 pages to go, the journey to that end was still well worth it!

If you’re looking for a last bit of summer reading, I highly recommend The Winter Sea!

On a side note, I am seriously considering dying my hair red after reading this book…we shall see!

What’s been your favorite summer reading book this summer?