Thursday, June 9, 2011

Meeting of May 30th 2011

Our host this month was Jolene. Present were Beth, Betty, Carla, Colette, Jane, Janet, Jolene, Linda, Michèle and Shirley. All were present!  Jolene prepared a very nice ham and cheese roll and other great hors d'oeuvres.  We also had a very nice strawberry and whipped cream cake.

The book choice was Jolene's The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  Ms. Morton is Australian and studied both in England and Australia.  The Forgotten Garden is her second book of three that have been published.  The story is situated in Australia and England and has three main characters in three different time periods.  Ms. Morton drew from parts of her own life in writing this book.  Her grandmother found out at age 21 that she was adopted and kept it to herself until she was an old woman.  Her home in Brisbane is very much like Nell's home, close to Antique shops and tucked into the Paddington hillside. And she heard many stories of family members immigrating to Australia from Europe.

The majority of members very much enjoyed the book, found the characters well developed and were captivated by the story.  Even though the story is situated in three different time periods most found it easy to follow.  All found the fairytales that were inserted into the story, written by The Authoress added another element to the book.  Several members mentioned the connections to Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca and  some to the scenes portrayed by Dickens such as how Eliza was treated by Mrs Swindell, Sammy's death on the streets of London and Eliza's tragic death.

There were some interesting themes, for example a lot about motherhood, the need and desperation to become a mother as Rose felt, surrogate motherhood, the relationships between mothers and daughters, Nell and her daughter Leslie, Nell and her granddaughter Cassandra, Rose and her mother and Eliza's desperate and tragic attempt to take back her daughter after Rose's and Nathaniel's deaths.  

Many of us enjoyed the book and felt it was romantic in its depiction of scenery and characters, especially in England, Cliff Cottage, the walled garden, Nathaniel's drawings that illustrated Eliza's fairytales.  There was a magical environment to the stories and characters, Eliza so tragic, Linus, evil and creepy, Rose, manipulative,  Lady Adeline, uptight and mean.

There was some discussion on our need to know our complete identity and where we come from and how that influenced Nell's whole life and her relationships with her sisters, her daughter and her granddaughter.

Thanks to Jolene for this book, we hope that she may come to enjoy it as much at some point in time