Usually when people recommend books to me, I zone out. My own list of books to read is so long and expanding at such a rapid rate that I have little chance of reading even a fraction of those, let alone random titles suggested by others that mean nothing to me. I zone out also because I’m picky and, unless I know a person really well and feel confident that we share literary tastes, I’m reluctant to pick up a book that I might really hate. The flipside of that, obviously, is that I’m probably missing out on some really great books. So, I’m trying to change that and am paying more attention to suggestions, especially from people’s who are likely to read the same kind of books as I do.
This paid off recently when a mom friend from play group suggested “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton. I saw it on my sister’s bookshelf and asked to borrow it. She hesitated, since she’d been wanting to read it and didn’t want me to have it long. I promised to try to finish it in six days, when she’d be coming up for a visit, so I jumped right in. I didn’t need a deadline to finish that book; in fact, I was so hooked by the first couple chapters that I couldn’t put it down. Instead of blogging (as you may have noticed), I spent my evenings curled up in bed, PJs on by 8:30 p.m., reading for hours on end. Worst of all, the book turned out to be an emotional tearjerker — not in a cheesy, harlequin romance sense at all, but because it addressed some really tough, heartbreaking issues.
Basically, it’s about a little four-year-old girl who gets abandoned on a ship from England to Australia in 1913. She’s discovered upon arrival and gets adopted by a loving family when no one else claims her. When, as an adult, she learns the secret of her past, it becomes her mission to find out why she was put on that ship and where she came from. Thus begins a mystery-filled quest to unravel the deep, dark secret of her family. It’s full of unexpected twists and turns, and the ending is so bittersweet that my heart, already aching for that poor, abandoned, confused child, couldn’t take it and I proceeded to sob uncontrollably for a half hour after finishing. My patient husband held me on the sofa as I gulped for air and tried to convince him, amid sobs, that we need to adopt an abandoned child and give it all the love in the world. (He wisely didn’t agree to anything in the heat of the moment.)
Any book that has that kind of effect on me is definitely a good read. And the other nice thing about it was its length — over 500 pages — which made for a deliciously prolonged story. Despite reading nonstop all week, I didn’t finish it on time to deliver back to my sister, but when she does get it, she’s in for a treat. I’ll be looking up Kate Morton’s other novels as soon as I have the chance and, yes, I’ll continue taking recommendations from that friend because she and I are obviously on the same page when it comes to tastes in novels.