Book Review: The Secret Garden

October 31, 2012 Whitney Review 2 Comments

Book Review: The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published by Barnes & Noble Classic on September 1, 2005
Genres: Classic
Source: Bought

Though Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote more than forty books, none remains so popular as her miraculous and magical masterpiece, The Secret Garden. Has any story ever dared to begin by calling its heroine, “the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen” and, just a few sentences later, “as tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived?” Mary Lennox is the “little pig,” sent to Misselthwaite Manor, on the Yorkshire moors, to live with her uncle after her parents die of cholera. There she discovers her sickly cousin Colin, who is equally obnoxious and imperious. Both love no one because they have never been loved. They are the book’s spiritual secret gardens, needing only the right kind of care to bloom into lovely children.

Mary also discovers a literal secret garden, hidden behind a locked gate on her uncle’s estate, neglected for the ten years since Colin’s birth and his mother’s death. Together with a local child named Dickon, Mary and Colin transform the garden into a paradise bursting with life and color. Through their newfound mutual love of nature, they nurture each other, until they are brought back to health and happiness.

The Secret Garden is a novel of Mary Mary quite contrary, whose parents die due to cholera and is sent off to live with an uncle. The house is old, dusty and filled with secrets. At first we all learn to hate the little brat.

Anywhose, a little bird tells Mary of a secret garden planted by her late aunt being “shut down” after her death. Of course Mary begins to revive it along with her disposition. Lonely Mary also acquires friends, a boy Dicken, brother of a maid at the manor and can “speak” to animals; Mary’s second friend is Colin her invalid cousin, a supposed hunchback and even more obnoxious than Mary, but of course the garden fixes that too, along with his ailment. It was all very Heidiesque

I’m not sure what I was expecting upon downloading it to my Kindle, maybe a childlike Midsummer Night’s Dream? Anyway, I should have known considering the title is the Secret Garden, but it was mostly about flowers and finding one’s inner beauty. I have no green thumb and think “inner beauty” should be left to Oprah and The Hallmark Chanel. I did like the book, it just wasn’t my taste (but hey it was free). I can understand why this is a childhood classic and I probably would have loved it but as an adult I got annoyed with touching definitions for each variation of flower Mary was planting. A small complaint I know, but there it is.


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