The Classics Club: The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

I decided in January to try to always have a classic novel or short story collection on the go, alongside one fiction and non-fiction. Continuing as I mean to go on after finishing Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald I picked up The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The Secret Garden introduces us to Mary Lennox an unloved orphan from India who is sent back to England to live at her uncle’s home, Misselthwaite Manor. Misselthwaite is a sprawling estate out on the Yorkshire moors, an alien surrounding for Mary filled with strange food, customs and people. Mary’s only entertainment is her maid Martha and her daily walks on the estate. One day a friendly robin shows Mary the key and door to a secret garden which for ten years has been locked and forgotten.

When we first meet Mary she is spoilt, sickly and rude but I could sympathise as her behaviour was a product of her selfish parents and scared Indian servants. While the move to Misselthwaite is not easy it is for the best. It is wonderful to see the transformation that Mary goes through as she works in the secret garden. She is joined in the garden by Martha’s younger brother Dickon, a friendly and practical lad who has many animal friends. Together they also convince Mary’s sickly, paranoid and depressed cousin Colin out too. As the garden starts to grow and come back to life so do Mary and Colin.

This is the first time I have read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I am no stranger to the story though as I have fond childhood memories of the 1993 film starring the wonderful Maggie Smith. I am pleased to say I found this just as charming as the film if not more so. I thought The Secret Garden was well-written with a realistic childlike voice, fears and wonders. What perhaps made it more charming than the film was the lack of opposition. The film portrays nearly all the adults as against the children whilst in the novel it is the children’s own fears and troubles they have to fights against. Making this an innocent and personal journey for Mary and Colin which I liked.

The Secret Garden is a charming children’s classic. I highly recommend to those interested in reading English classics. This is my 28th read off my Classics Club list. Great read.

Have you read this? Enjoyed the film?

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26 thoughts on “The Classics Club: The Secret Garden

  1. I have read the book and this is certainly one of my favorites. There was a line in the book spoken by Mary that says “All girls are princesses” (or something like that) and I loved it. I read a lot of children’s books for light reading since college. They’re like my stress-relievers. 🙂 I haven’t watch the movie though.

      1. No problem, Jessica. 🙂 I’m enjoying reading your posts since I can relate with your love for reading. Expect me to comment on books that I’ve loved, to. Or I might check your posts for new books to read. 🙂

  2. I’ve seen the film but must be one of the few people who has not read the book itself. Have you read Toms Midnight Garden – it’s a different take on a similar theme

  3. I loved both the book and film. Very good point about the difference, the opposition. I think there’s a similar feel to both book and adaptation but the book does win, even if the images in mind are from the film.

    1. Charlie, pleased to hear you enjoyed both too. There are some differences but I totally agree the feel of the book and film are very similar but the books just pips the film. I must admit I was picturing the child actors from the film while I was reading 🙂

  4. This is such a lovely, charming book! I don’t know how many times I’ve read it…I’m sure I read it for the first time as a kid. I’ve seen some movie too, but I don’t know if it’s the Maggie Smith one (or I didn’t recognize her when I saw it years ago!) and now I think I have to watch that. 🙂

    1. Cheryl, how lovely that you have enjoyed this as a child and an adult. Even though I still loved it as an adult part of me wishes I’d read it as a child too. I hope you are able to watch the film, Maggie Smith plays the housekeeper Mrs Medlock 🙂

    1. Alice, I am pleased to see a couple of people grew up watching the film too. Did you read this as a child? Even though I still loved it as an adult part of me wishes I’d read it as a child too.

  5. I know of this book, but I don’t think I have ever read it.

    Thanks for your post….very nice.

    I see bellarah said it reminded her of THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN by Kate Morton. That is one of my all-time favorite books.

    Stopping by from Carole’s Books You Loved March Edition. I am in the list as #10.

    My book entry is below. A Memory of Violets is going to be a favorite for this year.

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    My Book Entry

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. I haven’t read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton but I have heard good things about it so I would like to read it. I am pleased to hear your book entry A Memory of Violets is already a favourite of the year.

  6. I loved this book when I was a child, but I haven’t read it since then. It’s good to know that you could still enjoy it as an adult. I still have my old copy on the shelf, so I think I’ll have to read it again soon!

  7. I haven’t read this book either, but it’s been on my list for a long time. I think I might try reading it with my older son in a year or two if I can lure him away from superheroes.

  8. I’ve never seen the film, but I really loved the book when I was younger! One day I’ll definitely read it again. I remember Colin annoyed me so much, but I loved the idea of all the secret places to explore in the house and garden!
    I think that’s why I loved “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton so much… it reminded me of The Secret Garden, but creepier and for grown-ups =)

    1. Bella I hope you enjoy your re-read and I would recommend a watch of the film too; it is sweet. I haven’t read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton but I have heard good things about so I would like to read it.

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