Kate Morton's Forgotten Garden is a tale of mystery and self-discovery as Nell, the protagonist, tries to uncover her family's secret past, which opens a door to a new future as well. The decision to keep certain secrets concealed and her enigmatic past, affect Nell's personality and her relationships with others as she segregates herself from the world when the truth is revealed. Nell's quest to reveal her family's history and the secrets of the doomed Montrachet family, help her to learn the truth about her origins and find healing while making new friends and meeting new people as well. Along the journey, Nell finds a new identity, and a future that she believes will be filled with a lifetime of blissful, precious memories. Nell sets out on a journey to discover her individuality, her family secrets which lead to a new future helping her to develop her character and build new relationships.
Secrets in the past, once revealed, cause Nell's character to dramatically change. At the age of 21, Nell discovers that as a young child, she was found alone on a ship heading for Australia, and that the father she had loved for all her childhood years was merely a man who had raised her. Nell's reaction to the truth demonstrates the impact and effects it had on Nell's individualism and even her life that made it seem almost theatrical. Hugh states that after he revealed that Nell was not his and Liz's daughter he Watched as the bottom fell out of her world and the person she had been vanished in an instant (Morton 11). Nell believes that her own personality, her individuality and identity have disappeared, upon hearing the truth that she did not belong to Hugh's family.
[...] As Nell uncovers her past, she finds a new future and moves on from dwelling in the past. Nell discovers that Rose Montrachet was not her real mother, but Eliza Makepeace had to conceive a child with Rose's husband, Nathaniel Walker in order to please Rose with a baby since she was incapable of having one herself. As Nell unraveled this family secret, she develops and becomes more complete as a character because nothing seemed more important to Nell at the time other than the satisfaction of knowing who had raised her when she was young and who she was originally in the past. [...]
[...] Nell becomes more independent as she decides that she does not need a family or deserve it either. One usually takes family, blood and the past for granted, but this secret took away these values from Nell and made her forget her connections with others in order for her re-establish these ideals. Nell treasured her family, but her relationship with her parents and her younger siblings grew more distant as she resisted to talk to them and denied her responsibility to take care of them and make sure they were safe. [...]
[...] Pa's secret had changed everything. His words had tossed the book that was her life into the air and the pages had been blown into disarray, could never be put back together to tell the same story. She found she couldn't look after her little sisters without seeing her own foreignness, and yet she couldn't tell them the truth.”(62) This demonstrates a change in the relationship between Nell and her sisters and a dramatic contrast in character as Nell now feels that she does not belong to the family and states that she could not love her sisters the same way she had before without viewing herself as an outsider instead of family. [...]
[...] In an effort of desperation, Nell sets out on a quest to achieve understanding of her anonymous family and as she makes new friends along the way, she consoles with them, which slowly healed Nell's isolated and shattered personality. In this phase of the novel, Nell reaches restoration and renewal as she finds clues to trace her real identity. Along this search, Nell travels to England and meets Ruby waiting for her at the airport. It was Ben, Ruby's father, who suggested that Nell needed to break through her depression and travel to the place where the ship had came from. [...]
[...] Unlike the first secret, this one was more comforting to Nell because she now knows her place in this world and she has also unraveled the truth behind her family. tightened her grip on the brooch. Past. Future. Family. Her own past was filled with memories, a lifetime of beautiful, precious, sad memories. For a decade she had moved among them, slept with them, walked with them. But something had changed, she had changed. [...]
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