Book Eight of 2013: THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; “It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together…. ‘No wonder it is still,’ Mary whispered. ‘I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'” As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin’s sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden‘s portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived.

Ever since I saw the movie when I was little, I was in love with the simple magic of THE SECRET GARDEN. I would wander through my backyard in Florida hoping to find a hidden place to call my own. This sense of adventure and magic never really left me.

This is the power Burnett’s book has over people. The imagination between the children is simple and helps them change into the children they would have been if the circumstances in their lives were different. The book is about faith, nature, and how all things are truly wild at heart.

Mary Lennox is a tiny mean little creature. She is spoiled to the point that she never learned how to dress herself. Her mother figure was her Ayah, a woman she had no qualms hitting when she was mad. When a terrible illness takes over her home in India, Mary is sent to distant relatives in Yorkshire.

I love this beginning because you want to feel sorry for a little girl who never knew love and parents have died, but Mary does make it difficult. However, she begins to change and you can see the little girl she would have been if she had loving parents. She still has the fire of a future strong woman, but she learns to be less of a brat in the process. In my opinion, transformations in characters is vital to the ending of a story.

Burnett writes with a certain simplicity that snags a person into the book, though the basis of the story may not seem that appealing. Her imagery is beautiful and there were times I wanted a garden of my own. I still do, but I’m not one for a green thumb.

This book is great for adults who want to bring back the childlike magic and for children still holding on. (I noticed that my GoodReads says it’s for ages 9-12. Whereas this is a perfectly good age limit, I don’t see a reason anyone older couldn’t also read this book).

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