Library Journal Review
Verdict: After her highly successful debut, The House at Riverton, Morton once again creates an intricate family puzzle spanning generations. From the Victorian era to the present day, Morton follows her striking characters in richly distinctive backgrounds. Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy intergenerational family sagas. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/08.] Background: A four-year-old is found abandoned on a dock in 1913 Australia. The port master and his wife take in the little mystery girl and raise her as their own child, now called Nell. After her adoptive father passes away leaving her a tiny trunk and a book of fairy tales, flashes of memory return to Nell, in particular that of the mysterious woman known to her as The Authoress. She returns to England to search for her true identity, but Nell's long quest is not completed until after her death, when her granddaughter Cassandra starts to uncover the dark secrets of the aristocratic Mountrachet family in Cornwall.-Joy St. John, Henderson Libs., NV (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
In 1913, a little girl arrives in Brisbane, Australia, and is taken in by a dockmaster and his wife. She doesn't know her name, and the only clue to her identity is a book of fairy tales tucked inside a white suitcase.  When the girl, called Nell, grows up, she starts to piece together bits of her story, but just as she's on the verge of going to England to trace the mystery to its source, her grandaughter, Cassandra, is left in her care. When Nell dies, Cassandra finds herself the owner of a cottage in Cornwall, and makes the journey to England to finally solve the puzzle of Nell's origins. Shifting back and forth over a span of nearly 100 years, this is a sprawling, old-fashioned novel, as well-cushioned as a Victorian country house, replete with family secrets, stories-within-stories, even a maze and a Dickensian rag-and-bone shop. All the pieces don't quite mesh, but it's a satisfying read overall, just the thing for readers who like multigenerational sagas with a touch of mystery.--Quinn, Mary Ellen Copyright 2009 Booklist
Kirkus Review
A four-year-old girl abandoned aboard a ship touches off a century-long inquiry into her ancestry, in Morton's weighty, at times unwieldy, second novel (The House at Riverton, 2008). In 1913, Hugh, portmaster of Maryborough, Australia, discovers a child alone on a vessel newly arrived from England. The little girl cannot recall her name and has no identification, only a white suitcase containing some clothes and a book of fairy tales by Eliza Makepeace. Hugh and his wife, childless after several miscarriages, name the girl Nell and raise her as their own. At 21, she is engaged to be married and has no idea she is not their biological daughter. When Hugh confesses the truth, Nell's equilibrium is destroyed, but life and World War II intervene, and she doesn't explore her true origins until 1975, when she journeys to London. There she learns of Eliza's sickly cousin Rose, daughter of Lord Linus Mountrachet and his lowborn, tightly wound wife, Lady Adeline. Mountrachet's beloved sister Georgiana disgraced the family by running off to London to live in squalor with a sailor, who then abruptly disappeared. Eliza was their daughter, reclaimed by Linus after Georgiana's death and brought back to Blackhurst, the gloomy Mountrachet manor in Cornwall. Interviewing secretive locals at Blackhurst, now under renovation as a hotel, Nell traces her parentage to Rose and her husband, society portraitist Nathaniel Walkerexcept that their only daughter died at age four. Nell's quest is interrupted at this point, but after her death in 2005, her granddaughter Cassandra takes it up. Intricate, intersecting narratives, heavy-handed fairy-tale symbolism and a giant red herring suggesting possible incest create a thicket of clues as impenetrable and treacherous as Eliza's overgrown garden and the twisty maze on the Mountrachet estate. Murky, but the puzzle is pleasing and the long-delayed "reveal" is a genuine surprise. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.