The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Publisher: Penguin Books | 2007 (first published 1911) | 276 pages
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Ten-year-old Mary Lennox, who has lived in India all her life, is sent to stay with at her uncle Lord Craven’s Misselthwaite Manor in England when her parents died of a disease. Mary has never had a friend all her life and her parents had never bothered much about her. This makes Mary an obnoxious, sullen little girl who always expects her servants to wait hand and foot on her.
As Mary tries to adapt to the strange new ways in her new home, she improves in physique and character. She passes the time by exploring the gardens and trying to make conversations with an old gardener Ben Weatherstaff. Martha, a young chambermaid, is also the only other person who usually speaks to Mary.
Soon, Mary befriends Martha’s younger brother Dickon who has a way of charming animals around him. She lets him in on a secret that she found out a little earlier. She has discovered a garden which was abandoned for 10 years with the door’s key buried somewhere. By some stroke of luck, she found the key, entered the secret garden and felt that she was in a whole new world. So together with Dickon, they begin to work to bring the garden back to life.
Besides the garden, Mary uncovers another secret in the manor that has a hundred rooms. She stumbles upon her 10-year-old sick cousin Colin one night when she followed the sounds of his crying. From then on, she would visit him every day to talk and play, without them realising that they were making each other better and learning to enjoy their childhood at the same time.
I have watched the 1993 movie version of The Secret Garden when I was a kid and loved it till now. While reading the book, images from the movie would constantly pop into my head and I would compare how the characters were portrayed in both versions.
Descriptions were abundant in the book and it made me a little more knowledgeble about gardens and flowers. I was also a bit puzzled but tickled when I read that Dickon has a funny face. How can a person’s face look funny? But Dickon is a good-natured boy and it would be difficult not to like him.
The book got off to a great start but it slowed down for me halfway. It thankfully got better after three-quarter of the book until the ending. I’m glad that I have finally read the book as I have watched two movie versions of it, and like I mentioned earlier, I really liked the 1993 one starring Kate Maberly.