Doing things that bring me immense joy is not only a practice in extreme self-care but also a way of celebrating myself. Giving myself permission is the first step. Curling up with an engrossing book is pure bliss for me. I often take more than an hour a day to read for pleasure even in the middle of my workday as it reminds me to keep a balance between work and play. This month I discovered a lovely novel, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, a talented young up and coming Australian author. (A big ‘Thank You’ to Lynne Leslie!)
This lyrically written 19th Century gothic novel spans several decades beginning in the early 1900s. The books that inspired Kate are some of my favorites as well: Burnett’s The Secret Garden, and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The characters come vividly to life under Kate’s pen and drew me in with imagination and enchantment. I was invested in solving the mystery of Cassandra’s grandmother Nell’s birth and her survival as a stowaway on a ship bound for Australia all alone at the tender age of five.
Nell’s story of finding her sense of self in the past is superbly interwoven with her granddaughter Cassandra’s present journey from Australia to England to solve the mystery of a cottage she never knew that her grandmother owned. The symbolism of an actual maze, and the twists and turns that lead to a forgotten garden filled with secrets, perfectly captures Cassandra’s discovery of her grandmother’s journey decades before to discover who she was and where she came from. A journey she didn’t complete and never mentioned to a soul; especially Cassandra. The pieces of the puzzle lead Cassandra through a labyrinth to a walled up forgotten garden which reveals its secrets as subtly as the scent of a budding rose.
The way the characters are interconnected even through the ages drew me into savoring each chapter and not rushing through to the end. I truly didn’t want this story to end— while at the same time I wanted more than anything to know how it would end. I actually made reading this book last almost a week!
No surprise that my birthday wish list includes The Forgotten Garden, and Kate’s first novel The House at Riverton. Her new novel will be released in November, The Distant Hours—I will be counting them down!
Dear reader I’d love to hear what activity you do that’s just for you, brings you immense joy and bliss, and celebrates your aliveness.