You guys, I loved this book as a little girl. The Secret Garden was my Narnia. That gate in the wall was my magical wardrobe. Both the 1993 movie and the book were just like comfort blankets. And re-reading 20 or so years later was an absolute treat – especially during this holiday season. Cozy, warm, and filled with childhood nostalgia.
The plot is fairly simple. A young, spoiled, and completely neglected child loses her parents to illness in India and moves back to Britain to live with her uncle. As she’s adapting to life on the moor, she meets Dickon – an almost magical boy who communes with animals – and discovers an invalid cousin hidden away in a dusty old corridor bedroom. The three children, plus one old gardener, spend the spring and summer coming back to life again in a garden that has been locked away for an entire decade. LOVE IT.
Burnett writes beautifully and her imagery leaps from the pages. I could feel the sunshine soaking into the grass, smell the newly sprung foliage and bountiful flowers, and hear the birds chirping as they built their nests. In contrast, the dark, aging house was just as tangible. I loved the the juxtaposition of the lively outdoors and stillness of the manor’s interiors. Such a great setting and atmosphere.
The story, while rather basic, was still heartwarming and peaceful. Yes, the ending is fairly saccharine, but charming none-the-less. Children’s books need to end happily-ever-after and with the idea that anything can happen – that magic is all around – and that the natural world has great value and healing powers. How many kids even know what a garden is any more?
The characters are lively and fun, frustrating and pitiable without being victims. Mary Lennox is a little devil who becomes so much more; Dickon is fantastical and such a stereotype bending boy; Colin proves that children are impressionable and unbelievably determined at the same time. Even all the adults are an absolute delight.
I highly recommend revisiting The Secret Garden if you’ve forgotten this long lost best friend. And if you’ve never found your way to Burnett’s magical world, you’re in for a treat! A great novel to read in winter and dream about the coming spring! And everyone deserves the Penguin Threads edition because I suppose it is as gorgeous as the garden it harbors!
Another one bites the dust!!