The Forgotten Garden
Allen & Unwin, $32.95 pb, 519 pp
Bright comedians quickly learn that to explain a joke is to deprive it of its humour. If the gag doesn’t make an audience laugh without a laboured punchline, a good performer will swiftly modify her delivery for greater effect.
Perhaps Kate Morton should have kept this advice in mind as she wrote The Forgotten Garden. The narrative view-point changes between each chapter, allowing successive generations of Mount-rachet women to guide us through their respective eras. Readers are given an atmospheric sense of Victorian London and Edwardian Cornwall, of Brisbane in the 1970s and later in the new millennium. Yet there is a sense of tedious inevitability to the plot, due to the narrator’s incessant need to signal the narrative parallels. The author lays everything out for the reader neatly and clearly, leaving little space for suspense or interpretation.