Reviewed: “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Taking advantage of Google Play’s “Top Free in Books” I’ve decided to catch up on the classic literature that I either read in high school or have yet to read, because the classics seem to be what they feature as free books.

Knowing that I liked Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess, I decided to start with her The Secret Garden.

I don’t honestly remember if I’ve read this book before. I know there was a film version, or two, and I’ve seen that … well, one of them … I think. In any case, it was time to refresh my memory.

What I knew, going in, was that the “secret garden” was discovered by a little girl who didn’t want to be living where she had to live. I vaguely remembered a lot of creatures associated with a boy somehow. But that was all.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I remembered correctly the little bit I did remember. Mary is the little girl who discovers the garden and, once she decides that living on the moors might not be so bad after all, she befriends Dickon – a lower class boy who’s sort of an animal whispered.

The main thing I’d forgotten, or possibly never knew, were Master Colin, the sickly boy Mary takes it upon herself to coax out of his bed and into the garden paradise she’s discovered.

That’s really what the whole story is about, the healing power of this “secret garden.”

Mary goes from sickly, sallow, spoiled girl just come from India to healthy, rosy cheeked, humble girl who appreciates all that the moors have to offer. Colin is even worse off and gets even better. In the end, even Colin’s father is healed by the garden his wife once so adored.

You might think The Secret Garden is a book for children, and perhaps it is, but it’s more than that. I think it’s a book for adults too. As I read it, I found myself smiling and hoping and laughing and sighing – all signs of a good book. Even the “secret garden” aspect made me think because, at the same time I was reading it, there were two mated pairs of sparrows making nests in my yard. I watched them build the nests, make the baby birds (yes, I saw them having sex), roost in the nests, feed the babies, and coax the babies out to fly.

Will I read The Secret Garden again? Maybe one day, after I’ve forgotten it a little and can discover it all over again.


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