Monday, April 29, 2013

Camera Buddies & Bluebonnets

It's bluebonnet season here in Texas! My friend, Kristi, and I took a little adventure yesterday and headed down to The Bluebonnet Trail in Ennis. For those of you who may not know what bluebonnet flowers are exactly, don't feel badly. I didn't know about them either until I moved to Texas. They grow wild around here, and they are beautiful! When you ride around the backroads between fields of them, the smell is intoxicating. The flowers aren't around for very long, so there are "bluebonnet watchers" that let people know the best time to get out and see them.

Yesterday was a perfect day to enjoy and photograph these Texas beauties! Kristi came prepared with all the information we needed to find some fields of wildflowers. We were both armed with our cameras and decided to stop at anything we found interesting.

It's a rare treat to travel with someone who loves to take pictures as much as I do. Kristi didn't laugh when I crawled around on my belly to get "just the right shot" (did I mention I wore a white shirt??) because she was too busy crawling around on hers. She didn't get impatient and sigh for me to hurry up because she was busy taking more pictures or just enjoying the scenery. She laughed with me when we both failed to get the attention of a stubborn longhorn who refused to pose for our cameras! We often found that we were both waiting for the same thing to happen for a good picture - a vehicle to move, the wind to stir a flag, the cows to tussle with each other again. You know, things most people wouldn't want to stand around and wait for them to happen.

It's nice, of course, when your photography-loving friend also enjoys being outside as much as you do, enjoys riding around in the Texas sunshine in a Jeep with the top off (which means she doesn't care if her hair gets messy), doesn't care if you wear make-up or not, and loves to listen to music as loud as you do.

Yes, all those things are very nice.

It was a wonderful day...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I learned a good lesson after reading two very different books back-to-back. I'd like to tell you about the books but, more importantly, I'd like to tell you the lesson they taught me.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle because an author I really like, Patrick Rothfuss, was quoted as saying it's the best book he's ever read. In fact, his actual quote is now on the front of the reprint edition of the book. The original book was published in 1968. I had high expectations for this book because, even with as many books as I've read and love, I could never imagine naming just one book as the best book I've ever read. I thought there must be something quite amazing about this book!

When I first began reading it, I couldn't figure out what was so great about it. I mean, I liked it enough to continue reading it, but I really wasn't all that impressed. It was slow in a few places in the beginning and had me wondering where the story was leading. I found that I enjoyed it more half way through and towards the end of the book. I can honestly say the ending stuck with me, and I've mulled it over quite a bit. I even shed a tear or two, at one point, and felt my heart ache for the characters. However, I still wouldn't classify it anywhere close to 'the best book I've ever read'. I thought about what a wonderful fantasy writer Rothfuss is and scratched my head over what he finds "best" about it. 

Then,...I picked up the next book I wanted to read: The Hottest State by Ethan Hawke

If you read my previous post, know why I chose to read the book. I had no idea Hawke was a writer! Come to find out, he actually wanted to be a writer before he was discovered and went into acting. The minute I saw the book in the bookstore, I previewed it and decided I wanted to read it. 

I really liked the first person narrative style of the book, and you get the feeling Hawke is working out a lot of his own past in the story even though it is a fiction story. The main character, William, is an up and coming actor who has recently moved to New York. While living there, he meets a girl. The novel follows him through the relationship with the girl, while he also works out issues in his head about his parents divorcing when he was five and how his mother moved him out of Texas and away from his father when he was young.

I absolutely loved the book. I felt like I bathed in it. My heart went out to William and everything he was going through in the novel. I related it to times in my life when I had felt that way. His emotions are strong and his reactions to what is going on around him are strong, as well. I also related to it because I know, from my own experience, that no matter how long your parents are divorced, that mess stays in your head. It really loves to kick up dust when you're starting out in a relationship with someone...and even when you've been in a relationship for a long time. 

To tell you the truth, I had already decided halfway through the novel I wasn't even going to mention the book in a blog because, well, it was just one of those books that felt too personal. It conjures up all those feelings of first love and things you can't change and broken relationships in families. For someone like me, though (who stays in her head a lot), it's like getting a look inside someone else's brain and being relieved to say, "Oh, hey, I'm not the only one!" 

Then, I began thinking about Rothfuss and his love for The Last Unicorn.

He has this love, this connection with a book that I just didn't share. I wondered what experiences or feelings or memories he had attached to that book. Was it the first fantasy book he ever read? Did it inspire him to write fantasy? Is it that he loves it because it is almost like a "how to write a perfect fairy tale" outline (it even jests about 'the formula' of the princess/hero stories towards the end). There is a reason he is moved enough by that book to give it the recommendation he does. I trust his judgment as a good author, so maybe I missed something?

Then, I thought about Hawke's book again.

I assure you that I didn't love it just because Ethan Hawke wrote it, although it was fun hearing his voice in my head. I loved it because he did what he set out to do - "take very real feelings and turn them into art." It is what he says he loves reading in novels, and I find it is what I love most about his novel. There are many passages I love in the book, most of which I will never quote on here because, taken out of context, some people might get the wrong idea. For me, some books are made to be more of a personal journey than a book club discussion. For me, The Hottest State is one of those books.

So, to sum up the lesson (just in case I lost you): Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.  Yes, yes, I know this is an old saying and an old lesson, but it is also what makes reviewing a book so challenging: "Best Book" is in the Mind of the Reader. We tend to enjoy reading what we relate to the most. We should keep that in mind when we praise a book...or criticize one.

Keep the reader in mind when you suggest a book. For my close friends, I tend to know which books I read that they will and won't like. I know their preferred tastes and authors, just as they know mine. It is one of the joys of having close friends who love to read and having book club discussions. When I mention a book in a blog, I try to keep in mind why I liked it or disliked it and share that with you so you can decide for yourself if it's something that would interest you or not. Just because I loved it doesn't mean you will.

As for my A Tale of Three Men post, I shared that with you as a "full disclosure" kind of thing so that when I recommend things later on, you'll have one more weird, quirky thing to know about me and know why I like the things I like. (I could have also revealed that I was one of the numerous young girls who collected all kinds of glass unicorns back in the 80s, but my daughters already give me enough grief about that! ;)

Speaking of unicorns, I have decided to read The Last Unicorn again. I get the feeling I should. Perhaps there is something I missed on the first go-round? I'm also going to read Hawke's other novel Ash Wednesday. I guess you could call it additional research. Will I like this one as much as I did the first? We'll see...

Happy Reading! :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Tale of Three Men

I was never one of those girls who had tons of teen magazine posters up on my walls when I was growing up. In fact, I don't recall even having one. I do remember a brief period where I loved looking at John Travolta's picture on the front of my "Grease" album, but...that's about it.

You see, I've always been loyal to the only three "Hollywood" men I've ever loved. Oh, handsome faces come and go, boy bands rise and fall, stars shine bright and then fade, but my guys? Oh, my guys are everything I like in a guy...

First, there is Charlton Heston. (Sigh.) He is my first love and, truth be told, I am most loyal to him. I have loved him since I saw him in the original "Planet of the Apes" movie. Now, considering that movie was released when I was only three, I assume I was a little older the first time I ever saw it on television - maybe five? My brothers are seven and nine years older than me, so I had a tendency to watch whatever they were watching. They were both "Planet of the Apes" fans, so I remember watching it many times as I was growing up. Heston's character represented what an intelligent, brave hero should be. I loved his voice - strong, confident, and in command. He wasn't a "pretty boy," he was rugged and manly. (I won't even talk about how great he looked as the young Moses...)

Next, there is Christian Slater. While I thought he was cute in "The Legend of Billy Jean," it wasn't until I saw him in the dark comedy "Heathers" movie that I fell in love. A couple of years later, my love deepened with the movie "Pump Up the Volume." Christian's characters came to represent the wit and charm and sarcasm I find quite attractive in men. His facial expressions and his smirk, mixed with his boyish face, just made him all the more adorable to me. If I'm ever having a bad day, I just put in a Christian Slater movie and all is right with the world again. He makes me laugh,...and I love when a man makes me laugh.

Last, but certainly not least, there is Ethan Hawke. I met Ethan in the movie "White Fang," but didn't fall for him until "Reality Bites" and I fell hook, line, and sinker. His character, Troy, in that movie was that slightly tortured, sensitive soul that every girl hopes is hidden somewhere deep inside of every man. While seeming like a lost little boy, Troy struggled to find a deeper meaning to life and all the crap we go through. He screwed up a lot (don't we all?), but...he was always himself - good or bad - with no apologies. Somehow, I liked that about him and admired it. I have continued to love Ethan through all his various roles, and I have a particular fondness for him as Finnegan in "Great Expectations" and Jesse in "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" movies.

Now, I am aware that I am a grown woman with a "love" for three men that may seem silly to most. After all, they're actors - it's their characters I love, right? Well, yes and no. I enjoy them as actors and admire their talent, love their characters, and...I understand what they represent to me. These men, and the roles they have played, highlight what I love most in a man: an intelligent mind, a brave heart, a sharp wit, charming words, a sarcastic tongue, brutal honestly, and a sensitive soul. It's a good thing all those wonderful things are spread out over three men, it would be a deadly combination if they were all rolled into one! ;)

As for age differences, well,...Charlton has always been way too old for me and, sadly, he has now passed away. I still adore him, though. He is still number one in my book. Christian and Ethan are closer to my age - just a few years younger - and I continue to enjoy seeing what they're accomplishing in their lives and careers.

Now, if you're wondering what prompted me to tell you all of this, you won't have to wonder for very long. My next post will make things a little more clear.

For now, though, just enjoy the pictures! I know I am...  :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

About Facebook Friends

Once upon a time, in the Summer of 1981, I was fifteen years old. It was that summer that I learned a very valuable lesson from my dad...

(I know, you're wondering what could this possibly have to do with Facebook when the founders of Facebook weren't even born in 1981...and the internet, as we know it, didn't even exist. Hang in there with me, I promise it'll all make sense.) 

That particular summer, I had just finished my first year of high school (which was 10th grade, back then), and I had certainly had my share of first love heartache. I was glad to get away from home for awhile and spend some time at Myrtle Beach. My dad and stepmom chose to stay at a nice campground on this particular trip, and it had its own video game pavilion and other fun things to do around the campground.

Shortly after we arrived, I met this boy (isn't that the way teenage summer romances go?), and he seemed very sweet and funny and smart. Did I mention cute? Ah, yes, he was very cute. Most importantly, he seemed to like me a lot. Now, for a girl still trying to mend a broken heart, it's quite flattering and healing to have another guy pay you some attention and want to get to know you better.

The boy and I spent some time at the beach together during the day and, as evening came around, he asked me to meet him at a place near our camper and promised he'd show me the video game pavilion. He told me that his family had camped there since he was little, and he knew everything about the place and where everything was. He wanted to show me around. Again, I was flattered.

Once we met up that night, we began talking and walking around. It was pretty dark and, after we'd been walking a bit, I mentioned that I felt sure we should've gotten to the pavilion some time ago. He assured me we were almost there. Just about the time we had taken two more steps, bright headlights from a car threw a spotlight on us. You can imagine my surprise when the car came to a sudden halt, the car door opened, and I heard my dad's deep voice say, "Kim, get in the car."

Now, when my dad told you do something, you didn't ask questions. Aside from the fact he was my dad, he was also a police officer. I knew from his tone he wasn't happy. I was embarrassed in front of my new crush, of course, but I knew not to question my dad. I turned to the boy and said, "Sorry, I gotta go," and quickly walked over to the car and got in.

Once I was in the car, my dad drove back to the camper. He asked me who the boy was and where I was going. I told him we were going to the pavilion, that we were almost there when he stopped us. My dad grunted a tense, aggravated sound (something he does when he's unhappy). I told him I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. He told me that I wasn't, but the boy was. I didn't understand. I'll never forget the look on my dad's face or his next words, "Kim, I've been looking for you. You two weren't anywhere near the pavilion. I don't know where he was taking you, but it sure as hell wasn't the pavilion."

Now, I don't want to make some sixteen-year-old boy seem sinister. Maybe all he wanted to do was steal a kiss? I'll never know. I wouldn't want to know,...and I never saw the boy again. Lucky for the boy, my dad never saw him again either. Lucky for me, I gained some insight that night, and I learned not to be so naive.

The next day, some friends of mine showed up and asked my dad if I could go with them for awhile. A bunch of them were staying at a hotel not far from the campground. We headed back to their hotel to hang out on the beach and swim. I had a great time hanging out with my friends! You know, with people I actually knew and could trust.

What does this have to do with Facebook friends? Well, let's just say that after all these years, the lesson I learned that night at Myrtle Beach still sticks with me. I don't ever go places with people I don't know, and...I don't allow people I don't know to become my Facebook friends. Every friend I have on my Facebook is someone I know - and not because of the internet. I use Facebook as a way to connect to people I know, not meet people I don't know...who can appear to be anything they'd like to be over the internet. I share pictures of my family and friends on my facebook page, and I tell about my life. Why would I open that personal information up to someone I don't know?

At the camper
with my little brother, Chris
Summer of 1981
It dumbfounds me that people think it isn't a big deal to open up their life to a perfect stranger. I am amazed at the number of people who get on the internet and don't educate themselves on how to use it safely. Facebook has tutorials, folks! It tells you all about your privacy settings and how to limit or block certain information.

You wouldn't walk in a dangerous part of town, all alone, in the middle of the night, unguarded and unprotected,...but you'll play on the internet uneducated?! That kind of ignorance reminds me of myself in the Summer of 1981...

(P.S. Thank you, Daddy, for watching out for me!)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"We are not always what we seem..."

     "I know exactly how you feel," Schmendrick said eagerly. The unicorn looked at him out of dark, endless eyes, and he smiled nervously and looked at his hands. "It's a rare man who is taken for what he truly is," he said. "There is much misjudgment in the world. Now, I knew you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you take me for a clown, or a clod, or a betrayer, and so must I be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes. We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream. Still I have read, or heard it sung, that unicorns when time was young, could tell the difference 'twixt the two - the false shining and the true, the lips' laugh and the heart's rue."

~ Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Magic of Merchant

I had no intentions of writing a blog about my experience last night, but some things just have to be shared. I had the most delightful pleasure of seeing and hearing Natalie Merchant in concert with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and it was...incredible. While I wish I could describe the entire experience to you, I know it isn't possible. As the saying goes,"you just had to be there." While I worry my words will not be right - not be enough - to make you understand the magic of Natalie Merchant, I want you to understand why she has just become my new/old favorite storyteller.

I've never been to a Natalie Merchant concert before, but I have always loved her voice. It is unique, and I recognize it the minute I hear it in any song. She has not recorded any original material in twelve years, but she has recorded other people's songs and poetry. As a person who loves words and lyrics, I was deeply moved by her original arrangements to classic poems of the nineteenth and twentieth century. She sang a mixture of songs less familiar to me, but I enjoyed them immensely.

She was a gracious, witty, and sweet-spirited storyteller when she spoke to us, telling about bits and pieces of the songs she sang. She complimented the orchestra many times and told us how blessed we were, with orchestras going bankrupt all over the country, to have such a finely skilled and wonderful orchestra in Fort Worth. You could tell she really loved hearing the sounds of the orchestra, as she allowed the music to flow through her when she sang.

Merchant told us that she had a slight cold and to please forgive her from time to time. I could not tell she had a cold when she sang. In truth, her voice was even more haunting and powerful than it was in her youth. Her voice only failed her once in a song, and she stopped the orchestra to begin again. When they didn't begin where she wanted, she stopped the conductor and said, "Oh, wait, can we start again at the part with the bass and the drums? That's my favorite part!" And, of course, the conductor graciously obliged.

After the intermission, Merchant showed us her children's book "Leave Your Sleep" that contains beautiful illustrations to classic children's poetry. She read one of the poems, "The Sleeping Giant," by Charles Edward Carryl. She told us a bit about the author of the poem, and then sang his poem. The whole audience was smiling up at her, as she weaved her magic spell, and their eyes danced like small children. I was grinning from ear to ear because I had already purchased the book and the CD during the intermission. I felt I'd found a secret treasure before the rest of the children found out there was one.

It is hard to say, "but the BEST part of the concert was...," because so much of it was the best part, but I would like to mention that it was after the official concert when Natalie really let us in to her world. After the stage was cleared, the few people who left were...well,...the people who didn't really know her as an artist, I suppose. They didn't know, like the rest of us, to hope for a little more. We stayed and continued the applause. It took a little longer than usual, but Natalie came back out to an empty stage and said, "I guess you didn't understand the venue - that really was the end of the show but since you stayed, I suppose we could do one more song."

She called out her piano player and guitarist. She sang, "Wonder" more beautifully than I have ever heard her sing it before. The crowd that was left went wild (well, as wild as they dare to get in Bass Hall). Merchant explained that she had never been to Fort Worth before. You could tell she was touched by the love and welcome the Bass Hall audience gave her. She then called out her bongo drum player and the four of them blessed us with several of her well-known songs, each one better and more powerful than ever. Merchant danced around on the stage, and you felt like you were hanging out with her in her living room having a jam session. Magic.

Speaking of Natalie's dancing, I have to say this, she is beautiful in the way she moves. Many times during the concert, I wanted to close my eyes and just focus on the miracle of her voice mixed with the sounds of the orchestra. The only problem with that was...I wanted to watch her, too. Natalie weaves a spell with her body movements. Her hands are like graceful birds that move to the rhythm of the music. Her hips sway and her feet move, and I find myself entranced watching the storyteller pull me into her story. Sometimes she spins around the stage like a little girl, and she takes you with whatever playground or open field or mountain she spins upon. There was so much about her to take in, to absorb, and to interpret. I smiled through the whole concert because everything about her gave me joy. You see, everything about Natalie Merchant is a celebration of life, and what could be more magical than that?

If you're in the Fort Worth area this weekend, I encourage you to go! Here's a link to find out how:

If you're not in the Fort Worth area, you should look at her upcoming tour dates to find out if she's coming to a city near you:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Can You Handle the Truth?

Some books change your life, and some books are good at commenting on life. I would say that Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked is the latter. Hornby is a good writer, and I enjoy his no nonsense, "here's the truth about life" approach to his story. His truths aren't shoved up in your face, it's more like subtle hints that lead you along a path. Halfway down the path, you realize you recognize it all too well. We all know someone like one of the characters, or...we are like one of the characters.

Juliet, Naked is an enjoyable read that looks at the lives of a washed up rock star from the 80s, a man who is obsessed with the former rock star, and a woman who wonders how she fits in the picture and fears her life is going nowhere. The story line isn't earth-shattering, but it's comfortable and recognizable to those of us who have lived long enough to look back and wonder how we ended up where we are.

Like Hornby's High Fidelity, this novel also speaks about the power of music and the fanatical fans who use the internet to obsess together over favorite artists, favorite albums, and hidden meanings in lyrics. It also says something about the people we choose to love, fractured families, and the importance of knowing yourself. In other words, Hornby takes a sarcastic, humorous, and sad look at the state of the world and the people who live in it.  It is forgiving and understanding, though, in a way that made me nod my head and sigh, "Yes, we are like that, aren't we? When will we learn..."

While the book started out a little slow, I found myself smiling and looking forward to my reading time to find out how the muddled lives of the characters were turning out. (Maybe if things turn out OK for them in their banal lives, so will all of ours?! ;)

If you're a realist and an avid reader, I think you'll like it. If you're not an avid reader and pretty picky about what you read when you find the time, this book really isn't for you. I'm just being honest. I know a lot of people who might find this book a bit depressing or would prefer to read something that takes them out of the reality of their every day lives. This book makes you look at every day life, and what makes us all human. It's a good book, but I'm aware it isn't for everyone.

Oh, and one last thing...

My post on facebook this morning said:

I hate it when I find myself reading a book that makes me remember something I'd be better off to forget, but...I still really like the book. 

Yes, reading is a two-edged sword...

Just so you know, this wasn't the book I was talking about. I had already written the draft for this post before I started another book last night. I prefer to write about a book as soon as I finish it unless "mulling it over" time is needed. It wasn't needed with Juliet, Naked and, once I was finished with it, I jumped right into another book.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Importance of Being Silly

If there is anything we've taught our daughters that was important, I would say that the art of being silly ranks right up there with all the important life stuff you teach your children. Life is too short to take everything seriously. Goodness knows, there are enough things in life that require your full, somber attention! It is vital to know how to lighten things up a bit,...which leads me to talk about the serious business of silly pictures.

I have always loved taking pictures of my daughters. I think they are the most lovely and fascinating creatures I have had the pleasure to be around. I have loved and adored them from the moment I knew they existed, and I have always loved taking photos of them. Through the years, I have taken more pictures than I could ever account for. Because of my passion for photography, my daughters are experts at modeling for me,...ummm, so to speak.

I'm not sure when my "silly picture" cues started, but I imagine it was when my first born, Chambley, got tired of me taking her picture. It's too stressful to get even one small child to pose "just right" and, as time passed, imagine trying to get three to pose at the same time, looking at the camera, and not fussing with each other! So, I decided that when it came to picking battles, this wasn't one I was going to pick. So, when the girls were little, I would tell them to give me a nice pose and then we HAD to have a silly picture or vice-versa, depending on my mood...and theirs. 

I have years and years of silly pictures that mean much more to me than the "good" ones. It also shows that through all the stages of my girls' lives, they learned not to take themselves too seriously. They always cared about the way they looked, as most girls do, but only to a point. They liked to look nice when the occasion called for it, but they also knew all that hair, make-up, and clothing did not make them who they were. Like I said, silly pictures are important, and they taught good lessons.

A couple of years ago, I first began to realize how well my girls had learned these lessons. They have learned to be confident in who they are and don't let compliments about their physical beauty go to their heads. One day when I complimented Chambley on how lovely she looked for her new husband, she was quick to tell me the best thing about him was that he loved her (and kissed her just as sweetly) when she had no make-up on, her hair was in a mess, and her glasses on - "You know, Mom, the real me." Yes, I knew exactly what she meant. I'm happy to say that my son-in-law has a talent for silly pictures, too. 

My middle daughter, Katie, says that any man who loves her will have to love her "Prince side" - a saying she got from me for a gene we share. She doesn't mean "prince charming," she means Prince - the singer, songwriter, musician. In other words, it's more important for her to be loved and accepted for everything she is - crazy, weird, creative genius and all - than to settle for anything less. She may look like Cinderella on the outside, but she is Willy Wonka on the inside. She's dating a nice, young man now and trying to teach him the art of being silly. So far, she's doing a pretty good job of it. 

My youngest daughter, Cynthia, and I may not always agree on some things (primarily because we're both stubborn), but - I must admit - I came to understand what she likes about the young man she's dating now when I took photos of them the other day. You see, he knows how to do silly pictures...without being prompted. That says a lot. Well, that's not really all there is to it, but it's a big part of it when you understand what it really means. To quote my baby girl, she said, "See, Momma? We're alike. We have the same sense of humor, and we understand each other." Yes, I could see that.

The moral of this post, if there is one? Take silly pictures! Laugh together, love people (and yourself!) for everything that is unique and wonderful about them, and I promise the silly pictures will be the ones you enjoy the most. I know I do.

By the way, we're a nice, normal family when we're behaving appropriately for whatever situation we may be in,...but when it's not a requirement to be"nice and normal," we're silly clear to the bone. ;)

The End

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What A Dive!

When I wrote my last post, I had just put my book down and was enjoying the delightful dilemma of whether to finish the book or pause to marinate in the story. While the urge to dive off the story cliff was strong, I did manage to wait until Sunday night to finish the book. The need to know the secrets, and find out if my predictions were right, was too overwhelming to wait longer than that. While anticipation is thrilling, satisfaction soothes the soul. Now that I am relaxed and cradled in the waters of resolution, I can say that the trip down the cliff was amazing and quite rewarding!

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is definitely a book I would recommend to those who like a mystery about finding out things from the past. The book starts out with a little girl left sitting on a dock in Australia in 1913. No one knows where she came from or who she belongs to. There are two main settings (Australia and England), and the book time travels back and forth by chapters (primarily between 1900, 1913, 1975, and 2005), unraveling a bit of of the complicated mystery every step of the way.

What did I like the most about the book? I would have to say it was a combination of so many of my favorite things: mystery, English cottages by the ocean, haunted estates, a "no nonsense" kind of woman, children's fairy tales, and the need to resolve one's past. Morton is a good writer, and she gives lovely descriptions without getting lost in the details. The writing is clear and concise. The author doesn't waste your time losing herself in her own fantasy of words, but her words weave a spell that make you believe time stands still...until you look at the clock and realize three hours have passed!

This is not a book you can read and put down for a long while, you need to keep up with what is going on between the different characters in the different time periods. It also isn't a short book, but you won't notice once you get into it. I read this one on my Kindle and didn't know the number of pages. When I went to the bookstore one day, I saw the size of the large paperback and noted its 560 pages. I will confess that I bought the book, even though I already own it on my Kindle, and I also bought Morton's two other novels The House at Riverton and The Distant Hours. It is very unusual for me to do this unless it's a series, which it isn't, and should tell you how much I enjoyed The Forgotten Garden and Morton's style of writing. 

One last thing, if my review didn't convince you to read this book, perhaps Kate Morton can...