The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

image001The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a tale that I was familiar with before reading it, and somehow I wish I read it when I was still a child. I’ve seen the movies, but I’ve only read the book now. It is no secret that this book is a children’s classic and I can understand why.

Mary Lennox is a ten year old girl who moved from India to Yorkshire, Britain, after the death of her parents. In Yorkshire she is to live with her uncle.  One day Mary discovered the secret garden that was locked up after the death of her aunt ten years ago.  A robin showed her where the key to the garden was buried, and Mary was completely enthralled with it, Along with a new friend, Dickon, she decides to transform the garden – cleaning it and planting new flowers.

One day she also discovered, after hearing noises that sounds like crying, that a young boy lived in the mansion too. Her cousin Colin, who believed he was sick and an invalid, subjected the staff to many of his pointless fits.  Strangely, Colin took a liking to his cousin and she tells him about the secret garden and about her friend Dickon. The two of them decided that getting out more would do Colin some good and they particularly thought that the secret garden holds a kind of magic that would help Colin get better. That definitely was true. Mary, Colin, Dickon and the gardener worked and played in the garden, and sooner rather than later Colin started getting better. He believed it was magic, the garden’s magic… His father was non-existent in his life, because he couldn’t bear to see Colin in the state that he was. All Colin wished for is for his father to love him and in the end, the two are reunited.

This story was a delightful read for the child in me, and even as an adult this story is quite heart-warming. Basically the moral of the story, for me, is that we should be cautious of our thoughts. It determines how we feel and how we affect others. Colin thought he was sick and kept telling himself so, and so he was. The minute he knew and started to think he wasn’t, he got better. Thoughts and the power of the mind are powerful.  Judging from the children they were (Mary’s rudeness and Colin’s stubbornness and bad attitude) and what they have become, it proves to be true. I also loved the descriptions of the garden and the flowers that started to bloom. It’s springtime over here, and this little book definitely made me look at what is happening around me differently.  I would definitely recommend this book to those who haven’t read it yet, or if you had as a child, you should definitely revisit this book.

Image source

PS: I read this as part of the Classics Club Spin, but obviously I’m delayed.

  • Ali

    One of my favourite stories along with The Wind in the Willows.

    • It is indeed a nice read! I can see why it’s a favourite.

  • I have very fond memories of watching the 1993 film adaptation as a child but have yet to read the book! It is on my Classics Club list and I am really looking forward to reading it.

    • I hope you will enjoy the read, Jessica! I watched the movie starring Maggie Smith – really liked that movie!

  • The Secret Garden is one of my all time favorite books and one of only a few that I am happy to read over and over again. I’m glad you were able to read it!

    • I hope to read it again as well. Definitely something to be read again, Helen.

  • thanks for your review.
    I loved it very much as well.
    you might want to try 2 recent books inspired by it: The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton: http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/05/03/2012-21-review-the-forgotten-garden/
    and The Humming Room by Ellen Potter: http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/05/31/2012-25-review-the-humming-room/
    I enjoyed these 3 very much

    • Thanks for the recommendations! I will check out The Humming Room. I have read and loved The Forgotten Garden, I will definitely go check out your review – thanks for the link. You can search for my review too 🙂

    • I just saw that I actually did comment on your post and left my link! 🙂

  • I have never read it, movie yes

    • Hope you will read it one day! 🙂

  • This is one of those books I should’ve read as a child. Instead I read it in my Children’s Lit class during grad school in 2007. My professor was a sixty something year old who had read it as a kid, so she loved it. I swapped my copy when the semester was done and the prof was horrified that I hadn’t saved it for my daughters, who were 8 and 6 at the time. A week later a package came in the mail to my oldest daughter. It was a copy of The Secret Garden with a locket. I couldn’t help but laugh.

    • Hahaha! Thanks for sharing that story, Jennine! I agree with the professor, you should have kept it and I’m glad he made sure you did 🙂

  • It’s been years since I’ve read this book. I do remember the movie we watched had a certain haunted quality that made it even more beautiful. I’ll have to put this on my list to read to my kids someday.

    • I hope your kids enjoy it. Which movie did you watch? I only saw the one starring Maggie Smith and really enjoyed it. So glad I got a chance to read this book for myself.

      • We watched the 1987 version which we thought was much creepier. I had to go look it up on IMDB when you asked this and found out that Colin Firth plays the grown up Colin and Dickon was played by the same guy who did the Never Ending Story….I never realized that before! 🙂

        • Thanks for the info – I will go look it up too. Who knows, maybe I’ve seen it! 🙂

  • I have this book but I haven’t read it yet!

  • Read this a few months ago with an edition of original drawings. Loved, loved it! Better than Calgon to take me away!

    • I unfortunately didn’t read the book with drawings, I read a kindle edition without illustrations. I can imagine how nice it would be to have an illustrated version! Will have to go snoop in an old bookstore – especially the second hand ones 🙂

  • One of my favorite books. How fun for your spin! 🙂

    • Yes! I was glad that I got this one, because about 2 months prior I saw the 1993 movie and I remember telling myself right there and then that I need to read the book.

  • Oh, I love this book so much. My mother read it to my sisters and me when we were very little, so it has a special place in my heart. Did you read the edition with the Tasha Tudor illustrations? That’s the best one by far.

    • That’s such a fond memory! I wish I read it when I was kid. I didn’t read an illustrated version, unfortunately 🙁 I can imagine how beautiful it must be.

  • I just read this for the first time, too, and I kind of wish I had read it when I was a kid. The messages kind of seemed too simple, reading it in my twenties. But it was still a nice, cozy read. Good review!

    • Thanks Juliana! Sometimes the simple message carries alot of value 🙂 Definitely agree with you that it was a nice, cozy read.

  • The Secret Garden is a great one! I didn’t read it until I was an adult, but it appealed to the child in me as well! Something about a mystical walled in garden… Sigh… I want one!

    • After reading this, I want to have a flower garden too and plant them myself! 🙂

  • I LOVE this book! Thanks for this post. It reminded me of the wonderful memories I have of reading this as a child.

    • I can imagine what a lovely story this would be for a child! I hope you will revisit the book sometime 🙂

  • Don’t tell anyone, but I haven’t read this book! 😉 Seriously though, I want to! I own it! Lovely review my friend 😀

    • Thanks Jennifer!! I don’t have to tell anyone, you just did 😉
      You must read it, it’s such a heartwarming tale.

  • I’ve had this book since forever and still have not read it, I don’t know why I haven’t but thanx for the lovely review – I will have to make a plan. Bit backlogged on my reading 🙁

    • Thanks, Enid. I hope you catch up on your reading soon. This was a nice read, you should definitely read it if you have the book!

  • I don’t know if I read this as a child or not but it sounds like a re-read is in order.

    • I hope you enjoy it when you do decide to read it. Such a nice, cute tale…!

  • Adored this as a child, and re-read it every few years. Like probably most little girls I identified with Mary, as a fairly opinionated child myself! – and lf course, fell in love with Dickon, as I always wanted birds to come and perch on me and be followed by small wild creatures!

    • You’re lucky to have read it as a child, and I find you identifying with Mary quite funny. She was also rude and disrespectful, I am sure you weren’t 🙂
      Dickon was definitely one of my favourite characters in the novel.

  • Read aloud both the Secret Garden and A Little Princess to my son and saughter when they were little. They both loved the stories and I am sure that those and other such stories contributed to the fact that as adults they are avid and voracious readers. (I loved those books too).

    • I’m so glad you mention A Little Princess, because that was one of my favourite movies as a child (along with Matilda!) I never read the book, but I really want to, I absolutely loved A Little Princess!

      It’s great that you read it to them, and one day when I have children, I want to teach them to have a love for reading. Obviously I cannot force them, but I’d like to instill it in them, like my mother did with me 😀

  • 😀 This book was on my daughter’s summer reading list. What a wonderful story! I love reading YA and children’s books that help me get in touch with my inner child!

    Great review!

    • Thanks, Ricki! I have started to explore YA and especially children’s fiction this year. Although most YA I’ve read was from my favourite author, I must admit to enjoying children’s fiction more 🙂 Roald Dahl is a favourite!

  • This was one of my favorites as a kid! Haven’t read it with adult eyes yet, though. Great review!

    • Thanks Monika! I hope you will rediscover this lovely memory as an adult.

  • Reading your review, I’m reminded of how very much I love this book…and now I want to re-read it as an adult. Have you ever seen the musical or heard the music from it? It’s really beautiful! Found you over at Love at First Book! So glad you linked up.

    • I’m glad to have brought back fond memories, Lauren! I hope you read it again. I haven’t seen the musical, but I have seen the 1993 movies, which I loved. Thanks for stopping by!

  • One you have to read as a child. Reading your review reminded me that I bought a Folio edition for my daughter when she was small. I notice she still has it on her shelves in her own house!

    • That is so cool! That obviously means she has lovely memories of that book to keep it for so long. Did you read it for her?

      • No, she was old enough to read for herself, and would have told me so!

  • Great review- I haven’t read this, though I did see the movie which i loved!

    • I loved the movie too and I think it made me want to read the book more. Then the classics club pushed it even more forward 🙂

  • I saw the movie too indeed and still want to read the book at some point. Thanks for the review 🙂

    • I hope you do, Ciska! 🙂

  • litandlife

    I’ve just started this one! So odd that I never read it when I was young because Burnett’s The Little Princess is one of my favorite childhood books. Glad this one will not disappoint.

    • Enjoy the read. You won’t believe it, but Little Princess was one of my absolute favourite movies as a child, I still need to read the book though!

  • I adored this (and the film) when I was younger and I’m really looking forward to rereading it for the classics club. I’m intrigued to see if my attitude towards it will have changed. Pleased you enjoyed it 🙂

    • I wish I read and watched it while I was younger! I hope you will enjoy the re-read, it probably won’t be as “magical” as when you were a kid, but the lessons are still valid! 🙂

  • This review brings back long forgotten memories. I read The Secret Garden when I was a kid. Looking for a kindle edition now.

    • I’m glad it brings back memories! I think you can get a copy of it for free on amazon kindle.

  • I read this as a kid but honestly don’t remember much about it. I think that the movies have muddled my memory of the book itself. Maybe I’ll pick it up for the classics club!

    • I see you have A Little Princess on your classics list! That was one of my FAVOURITE childhood movies, I can always add that to my list and take something else off! I hope you enjoy The Secret Garden, Allison.

  • Isi

    I haven’t read it, Mel, and I wouldn’t know the book if you hadn’t talked about it. I will look for it in the library; I see that there are shortened versions and others that are complete, so I’ll be careful!

    • You might enjoy it, Isi 🙂 It’s such a lovely children’s story and it contains a message that even us as adults can learn from! You can watch the movie too, if you don’t have time to read it!

  • WOW! Your review of The Secret Garden garnered a large number of comments. 🙂 Don’t tell anyone, especially Jennifer Hartling of The Relentless Reader, but I haven’t read this one. Don’t know how I missed it but I have. Where is my TBR list? Must add right away. Stopping by from Leah’s little Share the Love party. So glad to see you there.

    • Yes, I’m glad and I think it’s because this book brings back many childhood memories from a lot of people 🙂 I won’t tell Jennifer, as long as you read it soon 🙂

      Does Leah also have a Share the Love party? I posted on Rebecca’s, maybe you saw my link there?

  • Pingback: Reading: A Love Story | The Book Musings()

  • One of those books I always meant to get round to reading. Great stuff 🙂

    • You should give it a read, it might bring back some childhood memories, because it’s quite a well-known story. You must have heard it somewhere 🙂