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Secret Garden by Frances Burnett
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Secret Garden (original 1911; edition 2009)

by Frances Burnett

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17,65427097 (4.16)594
Member:epazia
Title:Secret Garden
Authors:Frances Burnett
Info:Templar Publishing (2009), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Best Childrens

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

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English (263)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (269)
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“Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And marigolds all in a row.”

I admit that when it comes to children’s literature, I’ve been a little slack. So much for the literary explorer, this blog only has two books review that would fit the genre. One being the wonderful Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which I read a long time ago and absolutely loved, the second was The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe. I’ve only read two children’s books for this blog. I was happy to see that the Literary Exploration Book Club on Goodreads (it’s a great group, join it if you want to try different genres) decided that it was about time we did a children’s book. There were some great nominations for this poll, including Charlotte’s Web, Pinocchio, Wonder but it all came down to a battle between The Wind in the Willows and The Secret Garden. I have very vague memories of The Secret Garden; I know it had adventure, a secret garden and it was centred on a young girl.

What I got when I started reading this novel was something truly amazing. It has a nice blend of the Gothic and Romantic ideology and, you know me, that is the type of novel that I crave. The story follows a young girl who is sent to live with her mysterious uncle when her parents died from cholera. It was established from the very first line that “everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen”. We get a sense from that line that no one likes her and add the fact that she grow up in India with servants we know she was an over privileged brat of a child. This is all from the first chapter, so I knew from the start that I was reading a children’s novel that was going to be very different to the ones of its time. The whole idea of the Victorian girl, the girl that is always well behaved and helpful in the kitchen and is spending her time getting educated and prepared for marriage was not going to play any part in The Secret Garden, in fact it was more likely to be similar to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island in the sense that we have a child out for adventure.

Now, I’ve stated that there are elements of the Gothic and the Romantic in this novel so let me just expand on that real briefly. Mary was a sickly child when she came to Misselthwaite manor; in fact she was described in the first paragraph to have “a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow, and her face was yellow because she had been born in India and had always been ill in one way or another.” Then when you get to chapter 11 you hear her say “’I’m growing fatter,’ said Mary, ‘and I’m growing stronger. I used always to be tired. When I dig I’m not tired at all. I like to smell the earth when it’s turned up.’” All this has been a result of communing with nature, the very essence of the Romantic Movement.

Now when it comes to the Gothic you obviously have the big manor on the moors with all the secrets housed within it. You can see the typical gothic tropes through out The Secret Garden, Mary often hearing mysterious cries in the house and has been told it is just the wind. The whole house and even the garden has secrets and it is this that makes up the architecture for the gothic within this novel. However you can take it one step further, I viewed Misselthwaite manor as a symbol of Mary’s psyche. All those locked rooms hiding the secrets are representative of the psychological damage Mary has been through and slowly has to deal with.

There are so many little elements you can study within this novel. I kept looking at the similarities between characters and tried to understand what would Frances Hodgson Burnett wanted to say. Look at the similarities between Mary and the robin; both orphans, both find refuge in the secret gardens and seeking friendship. Then you can compare the similarities between Mary and Colin; both ten years old, sickly, neglected and over privileged, spoiled little children. I spent a lot of time wondering the importance behind the parallel lives but in the end have just decided that Burnett did this to emphasise the themes throughout this classic children’s novel.

The major theme that I believe comes through The Secret Garden is the importance between friendship and companionship (with Mary and Colin or even the robin). The Christian Scientist idea of disease not being a product of the body but of negative thinking seems to come to mind when I think about this theme. Frances Hodgson Burnett had a keen interest in the Christian Science movement (as well as Spiritualism and Theosophy in general) which developed before she began writing The Secret Garden.

You also have the theme that suggests an importance of being outdoors; the notion of getting out of the house and exercising being healthy for young children runs throughout the novel. This could also been accredited to a Christian Scientist ideology or more a product from the changing times where fresh air and exercise for children have been promoted. There is the Romantic Movement that suggests the importance of communing with nature, which was a backlash against an emphasis on the enlightenment and scientific. The movement wanted to highlight the glory, beauty and power of the natural world. Both Christian Scientists and The Romantics believe the natural world to be a source of healthy thinking, emotions and ideas.

In the end, this book is great and a joy to read, I was wondering how so many people enjoyed the book when I feel like too many people get put off by unlikeable characters. Both Mary and Colin where the most disagreeable children (not entirely true but close) and I’m perplexed, I feel like people only hate a book with unlikeable characters when it suits them and looking for an excuse. Anyway I’m not going to go into that. Analysing The Secret Garden closely, I did wonder if this novel came off too preachy but I enjoyed it none the less. It has inspired me to read some more children’s classics but I’m not sure which one I’ll read next.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2014/05/30/the-secret-garden-by-frances-hodgson-... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Dec 7, 2014 |
Read for specific assignment
  Enessa | Dec 6, 2014 |
In my opinion, “The Secret Garden” is a magnificent book with a touching story. The writing is very engaging because of the descriptive language, powerful message, and exhilarating plot. This story is about a young girl named Mary Lennox. The story begins in India. One day, Mary’s parents pass away. Mary is sent far away to live in a mysterious mansion with her uncle. She does not know anyone, and she has no friends. Mary is very unhappy until she finds the key to a delightful secret garden. Mary becomes good friends with a boy named Dickon. Mary also meets her frail cousin, Colin. She becomes friends with him and gives him tough love to make him better. The three of them work together to make the garden more beautiful. They play in the garden all summer. Colin reunites with his father. Towards the end of the story, Mary has a family, friends, and a secret garden. This book uses a great deal of descriptive language. For example, “One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live... surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.” This book broadens students’ perspectives about living life. This book teaches readers that life can be a beautiful, exciting adventure; however, life is much better when a friend or family member is there to tag along. The big idea of this story is to show children that life is full of fun adventures; furthermore, adventures are always more fun when they are done with someone. ( )
  sstelz2 | Dec 4, 2014 |
This is an all time favorite and I just found a copy of it in an antique shop in the square. I could use this as an example to share with my class that i have a list of favorite books
  ecm014 | Dec 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 263 (next | show all)
[It] will be read with equal pleasure by young people and by those of their elders who love young things, for whom literary craftsmanship is a source of enjoyment and a quiet, beautiful tale attractive.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times Book Review (pay site) (Sep 3, 1911)
 

» Add other authors (67 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burnett, Frances Hodgsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hague, MichaelIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bailey, JosephineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahl, SophieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hömke, FriedelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, FinolaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, ShirleyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingpen, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Konigsburg, E. L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrie, RobinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maroney, VanessaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masterman, DodieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCaddon, WandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
South, AnnaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tudor, TashaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Unwin, Nora S.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, JohannaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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First words
When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen.
Quotations
And the roses – the roses! Rising out of the grass, tangled round the sundial, wreathing the tree trunks, and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls and spreading over them with long garlands falling in cascades – they came alive day by day, hour by hour. Fair, fresh leaves and buds – and buds- tiny at first, but swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over their brims and filling the garden air.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the work for the original text. Please do not combine movies, adaptations, or other shortened editions to this work. Thanks!
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Book description
AR 6.3, Pts 13
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006440188X, Paperback)

Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; "It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together.... 'No wonder it is still,' Mary whispered. 'I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'" As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin's sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden's portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived. (Ages 9 to 12)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:07 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Ten-year-old Mary comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.

(summary from another edition)

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