Cassandra finds out after her grandmother, Nell's, death that she was not who she thought she was. Her "father" found her on a ship when she was 4 years old all by herself and brought her home where he and his wife raised her as their own. She did not find out until her 18th birthday that she was not who she thought she was and everything she knew was a lie. After Nell's father passes away when she is in her 60's, she receives the suitcase she had with her all those years ago as a little girl. Inside it she finds a book of fair tales, written by an Eliza Makepeace and illustrated by the well known portraitist Nathanial Walker. The book stirs some memories within her and she sets off to England to find out her true story. After her death, Cassandra follows in her footsteps to finish what Nell had started when she finds out that her grandmother had bought a house in England years ago that once belonged to Eliza Makepeace. Thus begins the journey that will change Cassandra's life.
I don't even know how to give this book justice. Beautifully written, heartbreaking, 4 different time periods written about in a way that I was breathless to find out what happened next. This is 550 pages, I bought it for my vacation this week, and I finished it today. Be ready to stay up late to see what happens as the story goes from present time, to Nell's trip to England in the mid-1970's, to the early 1900's with Eliza's story, and Nell's memories as a child, secrets revealed at the turn of every page. May very well be the best book I have read in 2009 so far.