Monday, October 5, 2015

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published: October 1987 (Originally published 1911)
Published By: Watermill Press
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Children's Classic, Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Date Read: October 4 2015
Rating: 5/5

  Born into a wealthy family living in India, young Mary Lennox is the sole survivor in her household after an outbreak of cholera. She is then sent to Yorkshire, England to live with her Uncle, a reclusive widower named Archibald Craven. Left to the care of the household staff and to her own devices it becomes apparent that this grand old house harbors many secrets, including an invalid cousin named Colin. Mary also discovers the beautiful gardens surrounding her new home at Misselthwaite Manor, becoming intrigued by one that has been specifically locked up since the death of Mrs. Craven ten years prior.

My Thoughts
Originally published in 1911, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a much loved classic. After completing the book for the first time I was sad that I didn’t get to experience this story as a child. 

Mary Lennox
Several years ago I saw parts of the 1993 film The Secret Garden, but I admit that I don’t remember all of the details. Also I don’t tend to put much stock in a movie that is based on a book because they usually pale in comparison. So when I began reading and realised how unlikable our main character Mary Lennox was, I was surprised. Normally a book with a disagreeable lead would turn me off, however as The Secret Garden was so beautifully written her initial sour demeanor didn’t faze me.  I quite enjoyed watching this character bloom along with the changing seasons. 

Such Beauty
Beginning in late winter, readers follow Mary and her new friend as they prepare their secret garden for spring. As time went on, Mary began to feel emotions that she never had before. She grew to love the moor and gardens and learn that she was in fact capable of liking other people. Her realizations were really quite touching. Also adding to the beauty of this story was a young moor boy named Dickon, who can communicate with any creature. He became my favourite character before Mary had even been introduced him. 

Such Irony
Meanwhile the similar circumstances of Colin and Mary’s situations were quite ironic. Both began their lives as pampered invalids, lacking any parental love. Although they were wealthy with staff to wait on them hand and foot, they were very miserable and unhealthy. They were just children and it was sad to see how neglected they were by their parents.  Dickon on the other hand was a poor moor boy who lived in a small cottage with his large family, yet he was happy, healthy and loved. This is a valuable lesson that proves that money does not guarantee happiness. I am sure that this moral wouldn’t have been as apparent to me if I had read this book as a young child. 

But the birds..
Yes those birds, one of my biggest fears. Silly I know, but it is true and because they played an important role in this story there were some uncomfortable moments for me. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue reading, but I did push through to finish. The beautiful descriptions of the gardens, Mary’s discoveries in the manor and of course Dickon were enough to keep me captivated and push aside my fears. 

In conclusion
The Secret Garden is a contender for one of my favourite books read this year. I would recommend it to young and old.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. It makes me want to read it even more! Nice review Melissa :)

    1. I hope you enjoy it as well. Thank you!

  2. I missed that book as a child too. It sounds like I need to remedy that.