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Tom's Midnight Garden (1958)

by Philippa Pearce

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,164395,943 (4.12)140
"Tom is bored and lonely until the old grandfather clock points the way into a garden where he meets Hatty, who had lived in the house in the late Victorian era©Ø--Provided by publisher.
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» See also 140 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this story. Tom is sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle when his brother has the measles. His aunt and uncle live in a small flat, part of a larger house. There is very little to entertain Tom- the small walled yard has only dustbins and a parked car, and he can’t go out because he might be contagious. He thinks he’s going to die of boredom until he makes a wonderful discovery. When the grandfather clock downstairs chimes thirteen, the back door opens into a vast, manicured garden. Pretty soon Tom is sneaking out every night to explore the garden. He meets other children there, catches glimpses of the gardener and a few adult members of this other household. Only one little girl can see him, and they strike up a friendship. Eventually Tom puzzles out that the children in the garden are from the Victorian era, and also that time moves differently for them. His life becomes so enmeshed in the happenings of the garden that he never wants to leave it.

Funny, if you think about it this book is something of a mystery. Who are the other kids in the garden? where do they come from? why can’t they all see Tom? is he a ghost in their world- or are the Victorian children all ghosts themselves? It all comes together neatly in the end. I didn’t find it sad like some other readers, I rather liked the ending. Very well written, believable characters and lots of interesting stuff to think about time, aging, how relationships change… Definitely one I’d read again, or put into my kids’ hands.

from the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Sep 16, 2021 |
Tom is staying with his aunt and uncle while his brother is in bed with the measles. At first he dreads it because their apartment - one of several in an old house - has no garden to play in, but he discovers that the grandfather clock in the downstairs hall chimes to its own version of time and opens the back door onto a garden of the past. He wanders that magic garden every night and there meets and befriends Hatty. Time in the garden passes differently, and Tom discovers that the magic won't last forever.
Opening a door to another, magical land is right up there on my list of excellent plot devices, and I *loved* this book when I read it a few years ago, and wish that I'd discovered it as a kid. The twist at the end is very satisfying, too. Charlie wasn't quite as enchanted with it as I am, but he still enjoyed it (or at least he humored me by saying so). ( )
  scaifea | Aug 31, 2020 |
Sent to stay with his Uncle Allan and Aunt Gwen when his brother has the measles, Tom Long is bitterly disappointed and unhappy at the prospect of a dismal holiday spent at their flat, which takes up one floor of an old Victorian house. Lying awake late at night, he is puzzled when he hears the grandfather clock in the lobby striking thirteen, and going downstairs to investigate, he slips out of the house and into a mysterious garden that was not there during the daytime. As it transpires, Tom has slipped into the past, into the Victorian age, when the house was still a great mansion. Here, in this midnight garden, he meets and befriends Hatty, an orphaned girl come to stay in the house, and one of the only people in the past who can see him. They have many wonderful times together in the garden, but all things must come to an end, and one night Tom finds that he can no longer enter the midnight garden - he can no longer travel to the past. In despair, he thinks that he has lost Hatty. But has he...?

A haunting and brilliant tale, Tom's Midnight Garden is a book I first encountered as a young girl, reading it, loving it, and then, despite its story staying with me through the years, forgetting its title. I can remember many times, thinking of that odd, enchanted story I used to love about the boy, the grandfather clock that struck thirteen, and the nighttime garden. This was before computers were ubiquitous, and I wasn't sure how to track it down. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me to ask a children's librarian, but in any case, I happened across it by accident one day, in my early twenties, snapped it up, and reread it. It was like coming home. Originally published in 1958, Tom's Midnight Garden won the Carnegie Medal that year, and it is not difficult to see why. It is an almost perfect book, addressing the pain of childhood, the joy and difficulty of friendship, and the nature of time and of dreaming in perceptive, sensitive ways. The conclusion, in which Tom discovers that old Mrs. Bartholomew, who is his aunt and uncle's landlady, is actually Hatty, grown old, and that it is her dreams of her own youth that have allowed him to travel to the past, always sends a shiver down my spine. They say the past is always with us, and I think that this is because we carry it with us - in our memories, and in our dreams. Philippa Pearce has chosen a unique way of exploring that idea, and she has done it brilliantly! Beautifully conceived, beautifully told, and beautifully written - this is a true classic, and is one I enjoy rereading from time to time, since rediscovering it. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | May 3, 2020 |
Wow! Wow! I can honestly say I am totally blown away. This is one of the best books ever written. My heart is pounding and I am short of breath. When I finished i just sat in silence for ages quite stunned. THe story will live with me for a long time, always a good sign.

I was given this book by a distant relative who i think was getting rid of it. It was just sat on my shelf doing nothing. A short book I could squeeze in between reading two 'proper' books. So glad I did

Please please read this. Tom has been sent away to live with his boring aunt and uncle in a dull flat cause his brother Peter has measles. Tom is bored and listless the only thing of interest is a grandfather clock in the hallway. When he is lying awake one night he hears the clock striking 13. Getting up to investigate he finds a mysterious garden at the back of the house that is definitely not there during the day. Many adventures follow with a girl he meets in the garden and who seems to be the only one to be able to see Tom. We find out the secret of the garden and Hatty at the end of the novel. A multi-layered novel that is a must read for young adults and adults alike. Also explores the nature of time, imagination and growing up.

154 pages, edition printed in 1972. 31st place on Waterstone's favourite children's book poll in 1997. ( )
  mick745 | Apr 8, 2020 |
Evokes the past, and childhood, and the notion of generations in a thought provoking and sensitive way but what really remains for me are the feelings and the imagery of this magical yet quiet book that tells an age old story of boy meets girl and the old and the young. ( )
  nkmunn | Nov 17, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philippa Pearceprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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He thought he knew where he could find information. He had often noticed on his aunt's kitchen shelf, together with Mrs Beeton's and all the other cookery books, a volume invitingly called Enquire Within Upon Everything. Now, when his aunt was out shopping, he slipped out of bed and borrowed it. He looked in the Index for clothing—Styles of Clothing in the Past. There was nothing under styles, or under past. Under clothes there were subheadings that Tom would certainly have found interesting at any other time—Loose Warmer than Tight, and Rendering Fireproof; but there was nothing about the changing fashions of history. He felt dispirited, as though he had been invited to call, and promised a feast, and then, when he had knocked at the door, found no one Within.
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"Tom is bored and lonely until the old grandfather clock points the way into a garden where he meets Hatty, who had lived in the house in the late Victorian era©Ø--Provided by publisher.

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Tom is bored and lonely until the old grandfather clock points the way into a garden where he meets Hatty, who had lived in the house in the late Victorian era
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