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Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Tom's Midnight Garden (original 1958; edition 1992)

by Philippa Pearce, Susan Einzig (Illustrator)

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1,340275,783 (4.14)78
Title:Tom's Midnight Garden
Authors:Philippa Pearce
Other authors:Susan Einzig (Illustrator)
Info:Greenwillow Books (1992), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:For school, Read but unowned

Work details

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (1958)

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» See also 78 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
This story is magical and lovely and written in that style of English children's stories that I absolutely love (think The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and probably a few others I can't think of right now. It might come across as a slightly naive view of childhood, but I actually think it's pretty accurate. I kind of wish it was a little more fleshed out (a la Secret Garden, which is one of my favourite books ever and I haven't read it in far to long) but that's a minor quibble. Fantastic. The language is rich and evocative and beautiful. Plus, my edition had some lovely illustrations. Cannot recommend enough. Some children may find it a little difficult, as the language is somewhat old-fashioned (only a little) and in some places quite difficult, but I think most would find this a wonderful reading experience! ( )
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
This is a great post-war children's classic about time travel (nominated as one of the best 100 books, films and TV programmes about time travel in a recent a magazine I saw); and also about loss and yearning for a particular place. It starts very well and ends a little sadly, but very nicely tying together the present and the past. I did think it sagged just a little in the middle, but it contains a lot of magic and I would recommend it to readers of any age who like light fantasy. ( )
  john257hopper | Nov 30, 2013 |
Captivating, engaging, magical and a lump in my throat at the ending.
No wonder, it's a classic. ( )
  gogglemiss | Nov 19, 2013 |
This book was my first encounter with time travel. It is still one of my favorite books of all time. I wish I could write like this. ( )
  AnnaLund2011 | Sep 20, 2013 |

I know I read this years/decades ago; all I could remember of it when I picked it up more recently was the story's premise. Having now reread the book, I can understand why: the tale's all right as tales go, but the setup's great.

It's the summer vacation. Because his brother and bosom buddy Peter has measles, Tom's sent off to the city to spend a few weeks living in a flat with his dull Uncle Alan and his gushing Aunt Gwen. At first he's bored rigid; but then one night the clock downstairs chimes 13 and he sneaks out of bed to discover that the house's back door, which normally opens onto a cluttered yard with dustbins, instead opens onto a large Victorian garden. There he meets and becomes devoted to Hatty, a little girl about his own age who's the only person (so it seems) who can see him; she's an orphan who's been brought here to be raised with her snotty rich cousins, a move resisted by her ghastly aunt. (It turns out that one other person can see him, the Bible-thumping gardener Abel. At first Abel assumes Tom's a demon, and tries to drive him off. Later he becomes more friendly.)

With each fresh nightly visit of Tom to the garden, Hatty ages by months or even years; it becomes apparent to us that Tom, although real to himself, is in effect Hatty's imaginary friend; and, sure enough, as Hatty progresses from child to young woman, she becomes less and less able to see him . . . But she never forgets him, as he and we find out in the final stages of the book, when it emerges that the crabby old woman who owns the house in which Tom's aunt and uncle live is none other than Hatty.

The two old friends have a grand reunion, during which the splendid other half of the time-traveling mechanism is spelt out. Complementing the Tom-is-Hatty's-imaginary-friend part of the setup is that each night, in her bedroom above Tom's, Hatty has been dreaming of her childhood; so Tom has been visiting not a garden that's out the house's back door but Hatty's dreams. Thus the reason Hatty had Tom as an imaginary friend in her childhood, and can recall him as such, is that she's meeting him in her current dreams, which is also why Tom knows all about Hatty's childhood. So, as far as the story's concerned, two types of vision -- two types of imagination, if you like -- combine to create real-life events.

It's a wonderful feat of fantasy conception, and Pearce pulls it off really well, with plenty of sense-of-wonder. As noted, the adventures Tom and Hatty have together in the world of the garden are, while entertaining and readable, far less memorable. But that doesn't matter in the context of this book's other strengths.
( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philippa Pearceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Einzig, SusanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If, standing alone on the back doorstep, Tom allowed himself to weep tears, they were tears of anger.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0064404455, Paperback)

Tom is furious. His brother, Peter, has measles, so now Tom is being shipped off to stay with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in their boring old apartment. There'll be nothing to do there and no one to play with. Tom just counts the days till he can return home to Peter.Then one night the landlady's antique grandfather clock strikes thirteen times leading Tom to a wonderful, magical discovery and marking the beginning of a secret that's almost too amazing to be true. But it is true, and in the new world that Tom discovers is a special friend named Hatty and more than a summer's worth of adventure for both of them. Now Tom wishes he could stay with his relativesand Hatty -- forever...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:17 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Tom finds himself in the midst of a strange adventure involving a garden that appears only at night and a girl from another time.

(summary from another edition)

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