Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

Literary Events

What's New?__________


July 6th, author Neil Gaiman will speak at the Long Center. $32.
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The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
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Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorable Discussion of The Forgotten Garden

Reading and discussing The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton, was great fun! Cindy asked us to prepare for the discussion, and she came prepared to reward us for our preparation. She had asked us to consider three of the discussion questions from the back of the paperback copy of the book:

Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra all lose their birth mothers when they are still children. How are their lives affected differently by this loss? How might their lives have evolved had they not had this experience?

Is The Forgotten Garden a love story? If so, in what way(s)?

In what ways do Eliza's fairy tales underline and develop other themes within the novel?

At the meeting, Cindy first gave us some background information. She started us thinking with an explanation about the mourning brooch that Eliza had hidden in the wall of the little room at the top of the stairs where she had lived with her mother and brother. A mourning brooch was traditionally made with plaited hair. Cindy suggested we think of the story as a plaiting of the lives of the three main characters: Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra.

Then Cindy pulled out the heavy artillery: A poster with background and guidance for each of the questions for discussion, plus a chart of the relationships between the characters and generations. She assigned us to three groups, each to discuss one of the questions for a few minutes and report the group's ideas to everyone.

My group talked about the third question, Eliza's fairy tales. Cindy's poster listed 3 fairy tales that were included in the story and 2 that were mentioned. Our group was inspired and had some good ideas! The Crone didn't need her eyes; she just needed someone to care for her. The parallel was visible in the lives of all the women. I think we agreed that Nell was most like the Crone, with Cassandra the princess carrying Nell's memory and mystery forward. The story called The Changeling was manifest in Adeline (the evil queen) keeping Rose hidden and maybe even training her to be sickly so she wouldn't be interested in independence, and Rose finally flying the coop. The Golden Egg story was obvious in its symbolism; this symbolism was made part of the Forgotten Garden story when the reader learned that Nathaniel had removed the Golden Egg story from Nell's copy of Eliza's book.

As concerns the love story, there were several in the book. There were unanswered questions, too, as to whom Eliza might have loved and why she didn't. About the women all losing their mothers, someone said Nell's loss was the most tragic. Then there was some discussion as to whether Nell had over-reacted by rejecting her adoptive family when she suddenly found out she wasn't who she thought she was. My notes on these questions are minimal. I think I got too caught up in the presentation. If you want to post some more detailed notes, please do.

Cindy had another poster, listing some of the medical themes she noticed throughout the book that had affected the characters in life-changing ways. This was a very interesting perspective on the book. I was impressed that Cindy thought of it! This kind of insight is why we come to book discussion meetings! The medical conditions included typhoid on Nell's ship; Georgiana's tuberculosis; scarlet fever as a foil for Ivory's disappearance; Adeline's blood poisoning (stuck by a Rose in the forgotten garden?); Sammy's unspecified disability; and Linus's lameness, perhaps caused by polio. 

Thanks to Cindy for helping us interpret this page-turner full of plot twists. I think we all left the meeting with a broadened understanding and increased appreciation of the book's themes and depth.


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