Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I always loved the story of The Secret Garden, but I had never officially read the book. As a kid, I would watch the movie over and over, so I thought it would be a nice trip down memory lane to read it now as an adult.

The Secret Garden is about a young girl named Mary who loses both of her parents to cholera while living in India. Her parents never had much to do with her, so she wasn't too broken up about it, but she was incredibly spoiled by her nannies and attendants while in India. After her parents' death, she is sent to live with her uncle in Yorkshire, whom she never knew anything about. She is told that he will not see her much as he does not stay at home long, so she is just to keep to herself and not go poking around the incredibly large manor house. She spends a great deal of time outdoors and explores the estate's immense gardens. When one of the servants in the house, Martha, tells her about a garden that was locked up after her uncle's wife died, Mary makes it her mission to find the buried key and get inside. Thanks to a very personable robin, she does find the key and starts working in the garden to make up for its 10 years of solitude. The house and family turn out to have many more secrets, one of which is that Mary has a cousin, Colin, who has been treated as an invalid his whole life. Mary helps Colin to realize that he is not invalid at all, just incredibly indulged, and eventually Mary persuades Colin to go outside with her to see the secret garden that belonged to his mother. While in the garden, Mary, Colin, and Martha's brother, Dicken, work on the plants as well as helping Colin walk on his own. The garden seems to have a bewitching effect, and eventually Mary's uncle is called home in a dream, and returns to find the garden open and his son actually walking.

I enjoyed the story of this book for nostalgic purposes, but I will admit it is definitely written for children. The perspective of Mary is that of a 10 year old girl through and through, and while the book does give a few adult insights, the majority of it is told through her eyes which can be a little ... limiting? The story really doesn't have much to it aside from the secret of the garden and the other little secrets Mary is able to uncover about her family. I enjoyed the story for just what it is ... a story. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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