Monday, 6 August 2018

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
First published as a serial in The American Magazine in the USA in 1910. Published in book form in the UK by William Heinemann in 1911.

My 5th read for my Classics Club Challenge

My 1910s read for the 2017-18 Decade Challenge which I have now completed! This challenge is to read a book that was first published in each of the decades from 1900 to 2017 - 12 in all. The challenge started on the 1st of September 2017 and finishes at the end of August 2018. Here's my dozen:

1903 - The Souls Of Black Folk by W E B du Bois
1910 - The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
1923 - The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
1930s - Collected Stories by Bruno Schulz
1943 - Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
1956 - The World Jones Made by Philip K Dick
1969 - Heroes And Villains by Angela Carter
1978-9 - Territory Of Light by Yuko Tsushima
1988 - A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
1998 - Havana Black by Leonardo Padura
2007 - The Running Man by Gilbert Tuhabonye
2017 - Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my sister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
   Waterstones
Amazon

When Mary Lennox is sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody says she is the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It is true, too. Mary is pale, spoilt and quite contrary. But she is also horribly lonely. Then one day she hears about a garden in the grounds of the Manor that has been kept locked and hidden for years. And when a friendly robin helps Mary find the key, she discovers the most magical place anyone could imagine...

When my sister spotted on Facebook that I had signed up for the Classics Club Challenge, she kindly lent me three classics from her bookshelves: The Secret Garden, Heidi and Animal Farm (I do know Animal Farm isn't a kids' book!) The first two I haven't read in well over thirty years and I hadn't read Animal Farm at all so I was keen to start them. I remembered some of the illustrations in a Ladybird copy of The Secret Garden and am sure we must have had a full text version too, however a lot of the storyline details seemed new to me this time around.

The Secret Garden is, of course, a children's book, but I was happy reading it as an adult and I didn't think the prose style was particularly younger than some modern young adult novels I've read in the past few years! The adult characters are perhaps too stereotyped - the poor-but-always-happy mother, the gruff-but-with-a-heart-of-gold old gardener - but the children, whose story it is after all, are wonderfully real and for most of the book are actually pretty unlikeable. I was shocked by the initial depiction of Mary's life in India. Simultaneously spoilt yet neglected it's not any wonder that she is so insular and awkward.

Where The Secret Garden absolutely shines for me is in the depiction of the eponymous garden and the natural world surrounding Misselthwaite. I loved the idea of this secluded estate isolated on the moor and began to feel enthusiastic at the thought of joining Mary in her efforts to regenerate the Garden (even though in truth I loathe weeding!) Burnett manages to teach without preaching and I imagine I was just as inspired to get out into the countryside when I first read this book as I am now. A true classic!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Frances Hodgson Burnett / Children's fiction / Books from England

21 comments:

  1. I adore this story. This is a neat challenge and would take some thought coming up with your list.

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    1. I loved revisiting The Secret Garden :-)

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  2. I haven't read this book in forever!

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    1. I was glad I could read it as happily as an adult as I did as a child

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  3. I am a bit ashamed to say that I have yet to read this book. It sounds like it would be worth picking up. Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Didn't you ever get the Boxed Set Of Classics for Christmas? You need to complain to Santa!

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  4. I'm very glad you enjoyed it - it is a lovely story. I've still got the Ladybird copy too! And if the urge to do some weeding gets overwhelming my (garden) door is always open! xx

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    1. Ha! If you'd seen the way I neglect our garden, you wouldn't let me loose on yours! Courgettes were nice though :-)

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  5. I don't know if I read this as a kid as I read so many books and there are a few with the secret garden theme.

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  6. I'm not a fan of classics, but I love books where the setting/world's so lush and glorious. Maybe sometime in the future, I can get myself to read this. Awesome review, Stephanie! ♥

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    1. This one's not a dry classic so I think you would enjoy the read :-)

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  7. It's been so many years since I read The Secret Garden. I really should revisit it.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  8. The Secret Garden and Heidi were both books my man was determined I would read as a kid and I only got to them as I got older because I was a contrary child. The Secret Garden I only read at uni in the end (so at least 6 years ago) but I remember finding it charming. It was lovely and sure it can stereotype characters but I think that adds to the story given its the story of the children more than anything.

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  9. I've only seen the movie, but this has been on my classics to read list for a while. I'm happy you enjoyed it!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex


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    1. Now I didn't know there had been a movie made?

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  10. I love this book and collect different editions

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    1. That's wonderful! I'm sure there have been several beautiful editions published :-)

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  11. That's the magic of this story - makes you want to go out and garden immediately even if you normally have not interest in it! I will have to read this one again soon. It's definitely one of my favorites from childhood, along with A Little Princess.

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