Spectacular Talent and on-par Success
Kate Morton is one of the most promising writing talents of her generation. She is an Australian general fiction writer who likes to meddle with historical themes and settings. The reason I am emphasizing her talent as a writer lies behind the fact that she has only written six books so far and is already among the most successful Australian writers.
The exceptional author went through her undergraduate education in English Literature at the University of Queensland during which she wrote -at least- two book-length manuscripts. Although she would not follow through with publishing these books, she put out her first novel “The House at Riverton” in 2007. This book launched her career like a rocket with countless awards won and millions of copies sold.
Worldbuilding as a Passion
The writer states in multiple essays and interviews that what she has for books is more than passion, it is love. She is specifically enchanted by the world and character-building in works of fiction. On another note, she also puts a lot of importance and work on houses which she attributes to having moved a lot during her childhood. In this article, I’ll present you with some Kate Morton book reviews to see what she’s all about.
Best Kate Morton Books
I will be starting off this article with one of the best selling Kate Morton books, The Forgotten Garden. Now be aware, all six novels published by the author are New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers along with several national bestseller titles. You can now probably guess the amount of success this piece had to be considered one of the best Kate Morton novels.
The book itself is the second ever published work of the novelist and it tells a historical-fiction story embedded with light-hearted mystic elements. It is almost a fairy story of the old in this sense and the beautiful natural setting of the book only adds to this vibe it carries. It also partly revolves around a mystery side plot which I think makes up for a great combination that reminisces some great classics.
A Mystery to Cheer Her Up
Cassandra, the main character of the story, is going through a rough period in her life at the start of the book. She had already been troubled by a traumatic event that happened a little over ten years ago and she just lost one of her favorite persons, her grandmother, under odd circumstances. Dealing with both of these heavy events, she is understandably a little under the weather.
While she is thinking she has lost everything dear to her in life though, she comes across an old book that lights a spark of hope in her heart. The old book includes some grim and fairy-like stories. This is interesting on its own but what really intrigues Cassandra is the fact that it was written by an author from the Victorian era who had gone missing -at least from the public eye- without a clue as to why.
Fully Fleshed-Out World
Why this book is considered to be one of the best Kate Morton books was clear to me right off the bat. It does not just feel like a story written for entertaining in mind, it feels like a fully fleshed-out world that you can not help but get pulled in by. It is a book with so many layers that also manages to be easy to comprehend and by all meanings of the word, beautiful.
The second book I will give you a glimpse of in this article is one of the most popular Kate Morton books, The Secret Keeper. It is a story that spans a vast line of time. It kicks off in an England that is living the calm before the storm of the Second World War, takes us through the death and suffering of the infamous bombing of the United Kingdom, jumps all the way to the sixties, and comes to its conclusion in twenty-eleven.
It is in my opinion the best Kate Morton book in terms of the atmosphere it sets up for the read. For The Secret Keeper, the feeling of the world is not just a contributing factor to the story but it is put in a place where it is given almost the same amount of attention as the plot. I have noticed a respectable amount of scenes that were written solely for intensifying the atmosphere.
Searching for the Lost Truth
All of the events told in the book are brought to light because of a small but impactful memory of Laurel Nicolson. When she was just sixteen years old, she would witness her mother murder a man. It was clear both of these people knew each other and that there was something deep going on. Laurel, now a thriving actress, visits her mother on her ninetieth birthday and she wants to know what happened before her mother falls into dementia.
She will get a clue, and she will investigate her way through the past of her mother whom she had seen as her lovely and innocent mother. She will go on to discover lifelong relationships her mother has developed with two people she met during the times of war. Most importantly, she will dig out a story of love and compassion that was also riddled with all kinds of lies.
Has Been Done Before?
I know what some of you were thinking of this book as you were reading the review, it has been done before. I know this because that is what I first thought of it as well. A family member with a dramatic story from a war, I can list five books off the top of my head for this trope. However, it is one of the best books by Kate Morton which makes up for its lack of creativity with emotional impact and a vivid atmosphere.
Next up on our Kate Morton book list, we will take a look at the book that brought the author her initial success. The main events of the story take place in London, between one world war and another. It talks about concepts like social and economic classes in a time where they had massive gaps in between them with the higher-class families using war as a political tool and lower-class ones suffering through it.
One of the main points about the book that caught my attention was the creative choice by the author to use a lot of characters as people with an impact on the events. This is usually a cause of confusion if it is not done with a certain amount of care and thought. Thankfully, the author gets it just right in terms of developing each character individually so they have valid differences to differentiate them by.
The plot of the book revolves around the now ninety-eight years old Grace Reeves and her shocking -even for her- past. She had been spending her years in a nursing home in peace until the visit of a youthful movie producer. As a result of this visit, Grace feels a nudge to contemplate some events from her past that started off before the First World War when she secured a housemaid job for a prestigious family.
The residents of the Riverton house were going through a good time in their lives as they are met with upholding wealth and success. Hannah, Emmeline, and David were the three grandkids of the house’s lady who then-young Grace got along really well with. The adults were not so keen on the children playing games among themselves but they had invented a secret game for themselves named The Game.
Capturing and Mesmerizing
The House at Riverton is a book about secrets. Both those that are kept from other people and those that we keep well away from ourselves. In this one of the best novels by Kate Morton, she once again creates a capturing and mesmerizing atmosphere that completely encapsulates the major theme of the book. Not only that but she also makes great use of plot twists and chains of mysteries as well.
The fourth book in the article is one that is among the best rated Kate Morton books both by critical sources and by the general public. As you can notice, this is the second book of the author that includes the word “house” in the title. This ties back to the novelist’s unusual interest in houses that I talked about above at the beginning of the article.
What I really liked about The House at Riverton was how the house itself almost had a personality of its own, separate from the people inhabiting it or the objects within. I was glad to see that this one of the top rated Kate Morton books also gives off the same feeling. The houses are alive much like everything else the author carefully creates for her worlds.
Two Women on the Same Path
The story of the book revolves around the mystery writer Alice Edevane and detective Sadie Sparrow who is on her yearly leave and on a trip to visit her grandfather. The lives of the duo seem to be completely separate as they do not even know each other. Yet, many turns and twists of fate will bring the two women together and put them on a journey of discovery.
Turns out Sadie is just on leave because she was under a lot of heat in her job and gets away from it all upon her partner’s advice. Alice on the other hand is still troubled by the seventy years old disappearance case of her brother Theo who was presumed to have passed away. Sadie will happen to stumble across the lake house where the disappearance took place and her life will be forever intertwined with Alice.
Impossible to Spoil
I usually try to leave a respectable amount of room for imagination when it comes to plots of books. The Lake House though comes off to me as almost impossible to spoil. What really matters in the story are the carefully woven details. With this amount of work put into the piece and the exceptionally well-created and fleshed-out characters, this novel is definitely a contender to be the best Kate Morton book.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter is the latest book by Kate Morton that has not had much luck with the critical feedback it received, at least so far. It was hard to see why that was the case before I started reading the book as it seemingly had everything else that made the other works brilliant. The suspense, mystic vibes, time-shifting narrating technique, and attention to detail were all there if the reviews are anything to go by.
In a situation like this, it is more than probable that the author just did not get the structure of the book right but still, this is a new book by Kate Morton. Why on would she start making mistakes now? Her previous five books had all been masterfully crafted and despite all the critique, I could not help but doubt if the book just had anything lacking or if it just fell victim to some kind of herd psychology.
Mystery of the Manor
It tells the story of two people living about one and a half centuries apart, Edward Radcliffe in eighteen–sixty-two and Elodie Winslow of our time. If you take a look beyond the characters though, it is clear as day that every single event happening in the book is written with a connection of one kind or another to the mysterious and eery Birchwood Manor sitting on the hills of Upper Thames.
Edward, upon happening onto the house during a trip with a group of his artist friends, will witness things that will forever haunt him and ultimately find his life in the slums. His counterpart Elodie will first be introduced to the place by an alarmingly familiar drawing of it that she finds in an old leather satchel. Besides the mystery of the house itself, the stories of two women who have suffered greatly will come to light.
Taking Too Much Time
Upon reading the book, I am sad to say that I must agree with what is said about it. The story itself is solid yet the author just takes too much time to get into it and loses the captivating feeling her other books provide. More than that, she fails this time to make her characters feel as real as she usually does due to the plot being more distanced from them. It is a decent read but it definitely had a long way to be the best Kate Morton novel.
The last one of the Kate Morton books we have in order is The Distant Hours. It was the third book written by the author and it was published in two-thousand-ten, just two years after The Forgotten Gardens. We already know the first two books by this amazing fiction author were massive hits that very few writers can even imagine meeting the success of. This piece though stands below-average ranked among other Kate Morton books.
Yet, in my humble opinion, it is maybe the most brilliantly written book by the author. I think the reason behind its misfortune was the sheer length of it as it is originally five-hundred-sixty-two pages long with some copies spanning well over seven-hundred pages. I do not think the length of the book was inadequate as it did not bother me at all, but I understand it can intimidating or even irritating for some people.
Even More Mystical
The novel tells the story of yet another person finding the hidden past of their mother during the Second World War. This time around though, Kate prefers the mystery to be explored solely by the eyes of the main protagonist and does not use a dual narrative. Edie will travel to Milderhurst Castle where her mother spent her childhood upon receiving a long-due letter. There, he will be laid out with secrets of her mother and the castle that protected her.
We have talked about the author’s fascination with houses multiple times and I think this piece is the most successfully executed product of this interest. By making the castle a place of the past, the author manages to give it even more of a mystical feeling. That, coupled with the amazing story which still stands to not lose its charm after half a thousand pages make this piece one of the best Kate Morton books.
Alissa is an avid reader, blogger, and wannabe writer. (She's a much better cook than a writer actually). Alissa is married, has one human, one feline, and two canine kids. She always looks a mess and never meets a deadline.