The Secret Garden is probably one of those books that your mother hoped you would read as a kid. And maybe, like me, you preferred devouring the entire American Girls series. Can anyone relate?
I find myself all of a sudden wanting to read those books that are classics for kids. Whether they be old or new. Hey, I finally finished Harry Potter in college! Recently I've been slipping older classics into my reading list, and I am really enjoying them.
Most recently I read A Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett as part of the Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge. The story follows Mary Lennox, a young British girl in India, who is found among her household who has died of a cholera outbreak. (pretty grim start for a children's book, huh?)
Mary is described as ugly, mean, and unhappy. She's selfish, rude, and unwilling to help herself. This is entirely a product of her environment. Her parents were also selfish, and ignored her a great deal.
When she is found alive, she is sent to live with her nearest relation, her uncle Archibald Craven, at Misselthwaite Manor in the English countryside. She moves into the house, and quickly learns that it is much different at Misselthwaite than it was in her home in India. She is soon left to her own devices, made to care for herself, made to entertain herself. She makes friends with a maid in the house, Martha, and her brother Dickon as well. That is when Mary takes an interest in the outdoors, and in herself.
She begins to run, to play, to spend time outdoors. She makes friends with a robin, and Dickon. Mary begins the search for the hidden secret garden on the grounds of Misselthwaite. As well as what is behind the terrible noises and screams in the night.
Along the way Mary finds much more than a Secret Garden, she finds purpose and enjoyment in her life.
I had seen the movie many times as a child, and I hadn't remembered the story very well. Reading it was very fun. I liked how Mary's character wasn't loveable at all, but once she decided to care about herself she became pretty, healthy, strong, and filled with purpose. All of a sudden becoming much more likeable.
I enjoyed the sweetness of childhood. Reading this book certainly brought back memories of playing outdoors in the summers, making believe with my sister, picking flowers in our yard etc. It is fun to remember what it is like to be a little girl. And maybe even more fun to read it as an adult...?
I also really liked all of the description of the moors. I'm a sucker for really good description in a book. It makes me want to see it in real life, and also to read Wuthering Heights. ;)
I would like to go back and watch the movie again now, I think I would have entirely new thoughts on it.
Have you read The Secret Garden? As an adult or a child? What did you think?
What were you favorite parts of being a kid? Did a book ever bring back those memories for you?