Nell’s life changes on her 21st birthday when her supposed father reveals the truth. Found abandoned at an Australian quay with nothing but a small suitcase, he takes her home to be taken care of until her family comes for her, but no one does, and so he and his wife decide to raise 4 year-old Nell as their own. Shocked & now with a suitcase containing fragments of her past, Nell shuns everything and everyone & embarks on a journey to find out her real identity. But there was much more behind her story than she imagined, a dark mystery involving a woman named Eliza known as The Authoress, which was hindering Nell from finding out who her parents were. In the meantime she marries the wrong person, becomes a reluctant mother & a downright cynical. She spends years trying to solve the mystery, & just when she starts seeing some light, her estranged daughter comes & asks her to temporarily take care of Cassandra (Nell’s grandchild). Cassandra’s mother never returns & Nell puts solving the mystery aside & concentrates on raising her granddaughter. Through the years they become close, Nell being Cassandra’s rock during a tragic life-changing event, but not close enough for Nell to tell her about her past. That is, until she dies. Cassandra inherits the suitcase, a cottage in Cornwall and soon she finds out, the mystery. Can Cassandra solve it? She feels she owes it to her grandmother and so she travels to Cornwall. There was something strange about the cottage but what made it intriguing was the discovery of a hidden garden, locked and forgotten for many years… Most of the book was inspired by Morton’s personal life, her grandmother learned she was adopted on her 21st birthday and only told her three daughters about it when they grew up. I like Morton’s grown-up fairy tale style. Time-travelling, this one going back to the 1900s with their gothic vibes, & of course some garden magic similar to The Secret Garden. The plot, the great descriptions (which prove that she did some very good research, including medical) and reading about idyllic Cornwall made this book of 645 pages with small text still worthwhile.
Mr. Stevens is a professional butler working at Darlington. He receives a letter from Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper, and by the tone of her letter he feels that Miss Kenton is not happy with her marriage and that therefore she might consider coming back to Darlington. Encouraged by his new employer to take a break, Mr. Stevens decides to go on a trip to meet her and hopefully bring her back. But is this call solely on professional basis or is there something more? And so he takes us with him on this journey, and whilst driving and lodging in different places he reminisces about the past, telling us in a beautifully melancholic way what his work meant to him. What made him a professional. What dignity is all about. He also tells us about the harmless yet meaningful bickering between him and Miss Kenton especially in the beginning of her employment. He gives us a hint that there may have been something more between them but as always Mr. Stevens is so professional he even hides his feelings from his own self. Analytic, sometimes as cold as fish and callous even, yet you can’t help admiring him for staying calm and in control even in very difficult situations. He was used to putting his feelings aside. A butler yet more of a gentleman than many, including some who were considered to be so because of a title. Is it not, in the end, a noble heart that makes a real gentleman? That gives you that kind of dignity and allows you to remain calm even when someone snaps his fingers at you? A noble heart that drives you to be, at all costs, that professional and disciplined; the utmost refusal, under any circumstance, to lose control or be vulgar. Many regard this level of servitude as weakness. I think it’s a sign of real strength. Only a strong person can be that disciplined and that gentle at the same time. That selfless… This book went down like a glass of cognac after a long day. Whenever I read from it my mind relaxed, absorbed its elegance and made me forget all the rest. I can’t remember the last time a book made me love both the story and the language itself that much. Beautiful in many ways. 5 stars.