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Book Review: The Secret Garden

Updated: Sep 10, 2019


Title: The Secret Garden

By: Frances Burnett

Age recommendation: Children

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I loved this story when I was a kid. I read the book once, but I watched the movie a million times. I had it memorized. So when this gem cam across my desk during a hard time in my life, I jumped at the chance to read it again to review it for all of you, knowing that the chances of it begin as good as I remembered were near impossible.


What's it about?

Mary Lennox is an unhappy, spoiled girl living in Asia. Part of a well to-do political family from Britain who found themselves more warped up in the glamours side of their world then the responsibilities of being parents, leaving the care of their young daughter to their hired help who bent to her every whim in order to prevent her from acting out and throwing a tantrum, which her parents found to be very annoying as they didn't want to hear the child at all. So, when her parents and everyone she had ever had to care for her fell ill and died, Mary was sent to her uncles giant home in England to live. Now, Mary did not know her uncle but soon learned that he was a miserable man who was running from sorrow so deep it was almost unimaginable and a lack of desire to make connections and form relationships with others.


Once again Mary finds herself in the hands of the hired help to care for, with an inattentive and overall absent guardian, but these servants were not quit so eager to bend to her will in a house full of secrets hidden away and broken hearts in need of mending. As she begins her new life with a newfound sense of independence and a thirst for exploration, she finds just what she needs to mend her lonely heart, her attitude and her love of life but little did she know that healing herself would be the key to healing others even more in need of it then she was.


What did I think about it?


I was a little surprised. I fully expected to read it and find myself wondering why I loved it so much all those years ago but I didn't. While the story is written very simply and I would have loved to get to know some of the supporting characters better (like Mrs. Medlock), I really enjoyed it! Though, I couldn't help but wonder where Martha went after a while. I know that Mary didn't need her as much, but it felt like she was such a huge part in Mary's adjustment from Asia to England, and Mary's first true friend, and then she just kid of faded away and was hardly mentioned. I also would have loved to see more of some of the relationships that formed, especially some of those that formed toward the end, which seemed almost abrupt to me (which may be a reflection of me wanting more and almost desperate to see more of some of the relationships grow and blossom).


But, even with those complaints, I loved it! Sure, the story was written simply and I could have easily handled more details, but the magic was still there! I couldn't help but to feel and believe in the magic of the garden, the people and the love. I could see young Dickon wondering around with his gently petting zoo in tow and somehow, I believed that he could do everything he claimed; I believed he could communicate with the animals, bond with them and create connections with him and I believed he could grow anything! Even as an adult, at 37 years old, I wanted Dickon to be my friend! I wanted to hug Mary and I wanted to shake her uncle but more then anything, I wanted to sit in the secret garden with a book surrounded by the characters I love so dearly and spend the day there, with them!


So, then, my favorite part may surprise you. While I adore Dickon possibly more then any other character and so respect his mother, I think my favorite part were the pages that brought the underlying lesson to life so beautifully. See, we create the world we live in. When we feel unwanted, ignored and forgotten, we act as such. For some that means becoming one of the best divas around, for others, they slink off into a corner and hide away from everyone, even sometimes themselves. When you think in dark and gloomy words and allow yourself to live in negative mind spaces, your world will be a reflection of that. But when you change that, even just one thought here and there, the world you've created for yourself starts to alter and change. It shifts and rearranges to fit this new set of thoughts until you can't help but change with it. Eventually, the change becomes more permanent. That's the magic we feel when we read the secret garden. And that's why the secret garden is timeless.


What do I rate it?

I give this book...

4 out of

5 roses


That's what I thought about the Secret Garden, but what did you think? Am I looking through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia? Let me know in the comments!


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