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The Secret Garden (A Children's Novel)

The Secret Garden (A Children's Novel)

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The Secret Garden (A Children's Novel)

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Dec 16, 2016


Mary Lennox is a sour-faced 10-year-old girl, who is born in India to selfish wealthy British parents who had not wanted her and were too wrapped up in their own lives. She was taken care of primarily by servants, who pacify her as much as possible to keep her out of the way. Spoiled and with a temper, she is unaffectionate, angry, rude and obstinate. Later, there is a cholera epidemic which hits India and kills her mother, father and all the servants. She is discovered alone but alive after the house is empty. She is sent to Yorkshire, England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven at his home called Misselthwaite Manor.
Dec 16, 2016

Sobre el autor

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849–1924) grew up in England, but she began writing what was to become The Secret Garden in 1909, when she was creating a garden for a new home in Long Island, New York. Frances was a born storyteller. Even as a young child, her greatest pleasure was making up stories and acting them out, using her dolls as characters. She wrote over forty books in her lifetime.

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The Secret Garden (A Children's Novel) - Frances Hodgson Burnett


Chapter 1

There is no one left

When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had 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. Her father had held a position under the English Government and had always been busy and ill himself, and her mother had been a great beauty who cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people. She had not wanted a little girl at all, and when Mary was born she handed her over to the care of an Ayah, who was made to understand that if she wished to please the Mem Sahib she must keep the child out of sight as much as possible. So when she was a sickly, fretful, ugly little baby she was kept out of the way, and when she became a sickly, fretful, toddling thing she was kept out of the way also. She never remembered seeing familiarly anything but the dark faces of her Ayah and the other native servants, and as they always obeyed her and gave her her own way in everything, because the Mem Sahib would be angry if she was disturbed by her crying, by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived. The young English governess who came to teach her to read and write disliked her so much that she gave up her place in three months, and when other governesses came to try to fill it they always went away in a shorter time than the first one. So if Mary had not chosen to really want to know how to read books she would never have learned her letters at all.

One frightfully hot morning, when she was about nine years old, she awakened feeling very cross, and she became crosser still when she saw that the servant who stood by her bedside was not her Ayah.

Why did you come? she said to the strange woman. I will not let you stay. Send my Ayah to me.

The woman looked frightened, but she only stammered that the Ayah could not come and when Mary threw herself into a passion and beat and kicked her, she looked only more frightened and repeated that it was not possible for the Ayah to come to Missie Sahib.

There was something mysterious in the air that morning. Nothing was done in its regular order and several of the native servants seemed missing, while those whom Mary saw slunk or hurried about with ashy and scared faces. But no one would tell her anything and her Ayah did not come. She was actually left alone as the morning went on, and at last she wandered out into the garden and began to play by herself under a tree near the veranda. She pretended that she was making a flower-bed, and she stuck big scarlet hibiscus blossoms into little heaps of earth, all the time growing more and more angry and muttering to herself the things she would say and the names she would call Saidie when she returned.

Pig! Pig! Daughter of Pigs! she said, because to call a native a pig is the worst insult of all.

She was grinding her teeth and saying this over and over again when she heard her mother come out on the veranda with some one. She was with a fair young man and they stood talking together in low strange voices. Mary knew the fair young man who looked like a boy. She had heard that he was a very young officer who had just come from England. The child stared at him, but she stared most at her mother. She always did this when she had a chance to see her, because the Mem Sahib—Mary used to call her that oftener than anything else—was such a tall, slim, pretty person and wore such lovely clothes. Her hair was like curly silk and she had a delicate little nose which seemed to be disdaining things, and she had large laughing eyes. All her clothes were thin and floating, and Mary said they were full of lace. They looked fuller of lace than ever this morning, but her eyes were not laughing at all. They were large and scared and lifted imploringly to the fair boy officer's face.

Is it so very bad? Oh, is it? Mary heard her say.

Awfully, the young man answered in a trembling voice. Awfully, Mrs. Lennox. You ought to have gone to the hills two weeks ago.

The Mem Sahib wrung her hands.

Oh, I know I ought! she cried. I only stayed to go to that silly dinner party. What a fool I was!

At that very moment such a loud sound of wailing broke out from the servants' quarters that she clutched the young man's arm, and Mary stood shivering from head to foot. The wailing grew wilder and wilder. What is it? What is it? Mrs. Lennox gasped.

Some one has died, answered the boy officer. You did not say it had broken out among your servants.

I did not know! the Mem Sahib cried. Come with me! Come with me! and she turned and ran into the house.

After that, appalling things happened, and the mysteriousness of the morning was explained to Mary. The cholera had broken out in its most fatal form and people were dying like flies. The Ayah had been taken ill in the night, and it was because she had just died that the servants had wailed in the huts. Before the next day three other servants were dead and others had run away in terror. There was panic on every side, and dying people in all the bungalows.

During the confusion and bewilderment of the second day Mary hid herself in the nursery and was forgotten by everyone. Nobody thought of her, nobody wanted her, and strange things happened of which she knew nothing. Mary alternately cried and slept through the hours. She only knew that people were ill and that she heard mysterious and frightening sounds. Once she crept into the dining-room and found it empty, though a partly finished meal was on the table and chairs and plates looked as if they had been hastily pushed back when the diners rose suddenly for some reason. The child ate some fruit and biscuits, and being thirsty she drank a glass of wine which stood nearly filled. It was sweet, and she did not know how strong it was. Very soon it made her intensely drowsy, and she went back to her nursery and shut herself in again, frightened by cries she heard in the huts and by the hurrying sound of feet. The wine made her so sleepy that she could scarcely keep her eyes open and she lay down on her bed and knew nothing more for a long time.

Many things happened during the hours in which she slept so heavily, but she was not disturbed by the wails and the sound of things being carried in and out of the bungalow.

When she awakened she lay and stared at the wall. The house was perfectly still. She had never known it to be so silent before. She heard neither voices nor footsteps, and wondered if everybody had got well of the cholera and all the trouble was over. She wondered also who would take care of her now her Ayah was dead. There would be a new Ayah, and perhaps she would know some new stories. Mary had been rather tired of the old ones. She did not cry because her nurse had died. She was not an affectionate child and had never cared much for any one. The noise and hurrying about and wailing over the cholera had frightened her, and she had been angry because no one seemed to remember that she was alive. Everyone was too panic-stricken to think of a little girl no one was fond of. When people had the cholera it seemed that they remembered nothing but themselves. But if everyone had got well again, surely some one would remember and come to look for her.

But no one came, and as she lay waiting the house seemed to grow more and more silent. She heard something rustling on the matting and when she looked down she saw a little snake gliding along and watching her with eyes like jewels. She was not frightened, because he was a harmless little thing who would not hurt her and he seemed in a hurry to get out of the room. He slipped under the door as she watched him.

How queer and quiet it is, she said. It sounds as if there were no one in the bungalow but me and the snake.

Almost the next minute she heard footsteps in the compound, and then on the veranda. They were men's footsteps, and the men entered the bungalow and talked in low voices. No one went to meet or speak to them and they seemed to open doors and look into rooms. What desolation! she heard one voice say. That pretty, pretty woman! I suppose the child, too. I heard there was a child, though no one ever saw her.

Mary was standing in the middle of the nursery when they opened the door a few minutes later. She looked an ugly, cross little thing and was frowning because she was beginning to be hungry and feel disgracefully neglected. The first man who came in was a large officer she had once seen talking to her father. He looked tired and troubled, but when he saw her he was so startled that he almost jumped back.

Barney! he cried out. There is a child here! A child alone! In a place like this! Mercy on us, who is she!

I am Mary Lennox, the little girl said, drawing herself up stiffly. She thought the man was very rude to call her father's bungalow A place like this! I fell asleep when everyone had the cholera and I have only just wakened up. Why does nobody come?

It is the child no one ever saw! exclaimed the man, turning to his companions. She has actually been forgotten!

Why was I forgotten? Mary said, stamping her foot. Why does nobody come?

The young man whose name was Barney looked at her very sadly. Mary even thought she saw him wink his eyes as if to wink tears away.

Poor little kid! he said. There is nobody left to come.

It was in that strange and sudden way that Mary found out that she had neither father nor mother left; that they had died and been carried away in the night, and that the few native servants who had not died also had left the house as quickly as they could get out of it, none of them even remembering that there was a Missie Sahib. That was why the place was so quiet. It was true that there was no one in the bungalow but herself and the little rustling snake.

Chapter 2

Mistress Mary quite contrary

Mary had liked to look at her mother from a distance and she had thought her very pretty, but as she knew very little of her she could scarcely have been expected to love her or to miss her very much when she was gone. She did not miss her at all, in fact, and as she was a self-absorbed child she gave her entire thought to herself, as she had always done. If she had been older she would no doubt have been very anxious at being left alone in the world, but she was very young, and as she had always been taken care of, she supposed she always would be. What she thought was that she would like to know if she was going to nice people, who would be polite to her and give her her own way as her Ayah and the other native servants had done.

She knew that she was not going to stay at the English clergyman's house where she was taken at first. She did not want to stay. The English clergyman was poor and he had five children nearly all the same age and they wore shabby clothes and were always quarreling and snatching toys from each other. Mary hated their untidy bungalow and was so disagreeable to them that after the first day or two nobody would play with her. By the second day they had given her a nickname which made her furious.

It was Basil who thought of it first. Basil was a little boy with impudent blue eyes and a turned-up nose, and Mary hated him. She was playing by herself under a tree, just as she had been playing the day the cholera broke out. She was making heaps of earth and paths for a garden and Basil came and stood near to watch her. Presently he got rather interested and suddenly made a suggestion.

Why don't you put a heap of stones there and pretend it is a rockery? he said. There in the middle, and he leaned over her to point.

Go away! cried Mary. I don't want boys. Go away!

For a moment Basil looked angry, and then he began to tease. He was always teasing his sisters. He danced round and round her and made faces and sang and laughed.

"Mistress Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells,

And marigolds all in a row."

He sang it until the other children heard and laughed, too; and the crosser Mary got, the more they sang Mistress Mary, quite contrary; and after that as long as she stayed with them they called her Mistress Mary Quite Contrary when they spoke of her to each other, and often when they spoke to her.

You are going to be sent home, Basil said to her, at the end of the week. And we're glad of it.

I am glad of it, too, answered Mary. Where is home?

She doesn't know where home is! said Basil, with seven-year-old scorn. It's England, of course. Our grandmama lives there and our sister Mabel was sent to her last year. You are not going to your grandmama. You have none. You are going to your uncle. His name is Mr. Archibald Craven.

I don't know anything about him, snapped Mary.

I know you don't, Basil answered. You don't know anything. Girls never do. I heard father and mother talking about him. He lives in a great, big, desolate old house in the country and no one goes near him. He's so cross he won't let them, and they wouldn't come if he would let them. He's a hunchback, and he's horrid. I don't believe you, said Mary; and she turned her back and stuck her fingers in her ears, because she would not listen any more.

But she thought over it a great deal afterward; and when Mrs. Crawford told her that night that she was going to sail away to England in a few days and go to her uncle, Mr. Archibald Craven, who lived at Misselthwaite Manor, she looked so stony and stubbornly uninterested that they did not know what to think about her. They tried to be kind to her, but she only turned her face away when Mrs. Crawford attempted to kiss her, and held herself stiffly when Mr. Crawford patted her shoulder.

She is such a plain child, Mrs. Crawford said pityingly, afterward. And her mother was such a pretty creature. She had a very pretty manner, too, and Mary has the most unattractive ways I ever saw in a child. The children call her 'Mistress Mary Quite Contrary,' and though it's naughty of them, one can't help understanding it.

Perhaps if her mother had carried her pretty face and her pretty manners oftener into the nursery Mary might have learned some pretty ways too. It is very sad, now the poor beautiful thing is gone, to remember that many people never even knew that she had a child at all.

I believe she scarcely ever looked at her, sighed Mrs. Crawford. When her Ayah was dead there was no one to give a thought to the little thing. Think of the servants running away and leaving her all alone in that deserted bungalow. Colonel McGrew said he nearly jumped out of his skin when he opened the door and found her standing by herself in the middle of the room.

Mary made the long voyage to England under the care of an officer's wife, who was taking her children to leave them in a boarding-school. She was very much absorbed in her own little boy and girl, and was rather glad to hand the child over to the woman Mr. Archibald Craven sent to meet her, in London. The woman was his housekeeper at Misselthwaite Manor, and her name was Mrs. Medlock. She was a stout woman, with very red cheeks and sharp black eyes. She wore a very purple dress, a black silk mantle with jet fringe on it and a black bonnet with purple velvet flowers which stuck up and trembled when she moved her head. Mary did not like her at all, but as she very seldom liked people there was nothing remarkable in that; besides which it was very evident Mrs. Medlock did not think much of her.

My word! she's a plain little piece of goods! she said. And we'd heard that her mother was a beauty. She hasn't handed much of it down, has she, ma'am? Perhaps she will improve as she grows older, the officer's wife said good-naturedly. If she were not so sallow and had a nicer expression, her features are rather good. Children alter so much.

She'll have to alter a good deal, answered Mrs. Medlock. And, there's nothing likely to improve children at Misselthwaite—if you ask me! They thought Mary was not listening because she was standing a little apart from them at the window of the private hotel they had gone to. She was watching the passing buses and cabs and people, but she heard quite well and was made very curious about her uncle and the place he lived in. What sort of a place was it, and what would he be like? What was a hunchback? She had never seen one. Perhaps there were none in India.

Since she had been living in other people's houses and had had no Ayah, she had begun to feel lonely and to think queer thoughts which were new to her. She had begun to wonder why she had never seemed to belong to anyone even when her father and mother had been alive. Other children seemed to belong to their fathers and mothers, but she had never seemed to really be anyone's little girl. She had had servants, and food and clothes, but no one had taken any notice of her. She did not know that this was because she was a disagreeable child; but then, of course, she did not know she was disagreeable. She often thought that other people were, but she did not know that she was so herself.

She thought Mrs. Medlock the most disagreeable person she had ever seen, with her common, highly colored face and her common fine bonnet. When the next day they set out on their journey to Yorkshire, she walked through the station to the railway carriage with her head up and trying to keep as far away from her as she could, because she did not want to seem to belong to her. It would have made her angry to think people imagined she was her little girl.

But Mrs. Medlock was not in the least disturbed by her and her thoughts. She was the kind of woman who would stand no nonsense from young ones. At least, that is what she would have said if she had been asked. She had not wanted to go to London just when her sister Maria's daughter was going to be married, but she had a comfortable, well paid place as housekeeper at Misselthwaite Manor and the only way in which she could keep it was to do at once what Mr. Archibald Craven told her to do. She never dared even to ask a question.

Captain Lennox and his wife died of the cholera, Mr. Craven had said in his short, cold way. Captain Lennox was my wife's brother and I am their daughter's guardian. The child is to be brought here. You must go to London and bring her yourself.

So she packed her small trunk and made the journey.

Mary sat in her corner of the railway carriage and looked plain and fretful. She had nothing to read or to look at, and she had folded her thin little black-gloved hands in her lap. Her black dress made her look yellower than ever, and her limp light hair straggled from under her black crepe hat.

A more marred-looking young one I never saw in my life, Mrs. Medlock thought. (Marred is a Yorkshire word and means spoiled and pettish.) She had never seen a child who sat so still without doing anything; and at last she got tired of watching her and began to talk in a brisk, hard voice.

I suppose I may as well tell you something about where you are going to, she said. Do you know anything about your uncle?

No, said Mary.

Never heard your father and mother talk about him?

No, said Mary frowning. She frowned because she remembered that her father and mother had never talked to her about anything in particular. Certainly they had never told her things.

Humph, muttered Mrs. Medlock, staring at her queer, unresponsive little face. She did not say any more for a few moments and then she began again.

I suppose you might as well be told something—to prepare you. You are going to a queer place.

Mary said nothing at all, and Mrs. Medlock looked rather discomfited by her apparent indifference, but, after taking a breath, she went on.

Not but that it's a grand big place in a gloomy way, and Mr. Craven's proud of it in his way—and that's gloomy enough, too. The house is six hundred years old and it's on the edge of the moor, and there's near a hundred rooms in it, though most of them's shut up and locked. And there's pictures and fine old furniture and things that's been there for ages, and there's a big park round it and gardens and trees with branches trailing to the ground—some of them. She paused and took another breath. But there's nothing else, she ended suddenly.

Mary had begun to listen in spite of herself. It all sounded so unlike India, and anything new rather attracted her. But she did not intend to look as if she were interested. That was one of her unhappy, disagreeable ways. So she sat still.

Well, said Mrs. Medlock. What do you think of it?

Nothing, she answered. I know nothing about such places.

That made Mrs. Medlock laugh a short sort of laugh.

Eh! she said, but you are like an old woman. Don't you care?

It doesn't matter said Mary, whether I care or not.

You are right enough there, said Mrs. Medlock. It doesn't. What you're to be kept at Misselthwaite Manor for I don't know, unless because it's the easiest way. He's not going to trouble himself about you, that's sure and certain. He never troubles himself about no one.

She stopped herself as

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  • (4/5)
    Having just re-read "Black Beauty" and being disappointed, i was nervous about revisiting this book but, thankfully, my fears were unfounded. "The Secret Garden" was as delightful as the first time I read it many, many years ago.
  • (3/5)
    There is a lot to like about this children's classic: the set-up (Mary's family is all killed off during an outbreak of cholera in India - ouch! You don't have cold-hearted openings like that so often these days, and certainly not in this genre), the characterisations, the way that Hodgson Burnett attaches her story to the landscape of the Moors, the way that good life lessons are carefully disseminated without every becoming too cloying... and yet, because the ending was so well sign-posted by the halfway stage of the book, some sections did tend towards the tedious. Add to that the generally poor treatment meted out to the underclass (the poor, the gardeners, the household staff) and you end up with a book that it's easy to like and easy to be put off by. I'm glad I read it, and I would have no difficulty in recommending it to others, but there is a part of me that thinks that this book's time has been and gone.
  • (4/5)
    The Secret Garden tells the story of Mary, a young girl of privilege growing up in India who, after her parents' death of cholera, is swept away to live in her estranged uncle's Yorkshire manor house in England. Spoiled and disagreeable, with no history of any true friendships, she must adapt to a new environment and learn to entertain herself.I'm one of probably a very few who have not previously read or seen the movie adaptation of The Secret Garden. I've had a copy of the book on my shelf for quite a while, but it wasn't until just recently that I decided to delve into an audio copy available on Hoopla, which I devoured pretty quickly while doing various work & household activities. This book is definitely a product of its era (published in 1911), but that's part of its charm. The most enjoyable aspect for me was reading about the true pleasure of the discovery of a garden and the effects that discovery can have on a child's imagination and outlook on life. Sometimes it's the simple things which can bring us such pleasure, and it's nice to be able to look at that through a child's eye.
  • (5/5)
    Why did I wait so long to read this classic? The plot of this book centers around Mary Lennox, who came to England to live with a brooding uncle who she has never met as her parents both died of Cholera. She was a most disagreeable child. While there, she discovers her most disagreeable cousin who has been told he is an invalid from birth. She also meets Dicken, a Yorkshire lad who introduces the moor to Mary and her cousin. Just delightful!
  • (5/5)
    Mary, a spoiled girl, is sent to live with her uncle after the death of her parents in India. Encouraged to get outside, Mary discovers a secret garden, waiting to be brought back to life. With the help of her new friend Dickon, she transforms the garden and the garden transforms everyone who enters. This is another one of my favorite books. This book describes the garden in such detail that it can help students imagine what the garden looks like. The students could write about what they would do if they found a secret garden of their own. They could also compare and contrast this book with the movie version as well.
  • (4/5)
    Fun audiobook with Fiona Hughes reading it.
  • (5/5)
    One of my favorite childhood books, about a young girl named Mary who is sent to live with her recluse Uncle in England after her parents die in India. She befriends her spoiled cousin and a local common boy, and together they discover an abandoned garden.
  • (4/5)
    I loved this as a child and reading it as an adult was a treat. A must read.
  • (5/5)
    This charming children’s classic, written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is worth reading as an adult, even if you read it first as a child. The story vividly and accurately portrays the emotional journey that many third-culture-kids experience, as they confront the reverse-culture-shock of repatriation.Mary Lennox is a nine-year-old, British military brat, born and raised in British Colonial India. The story begins in the midst of a cholera epidemic, which kills both of her parents. When a pair of British officers discover Mary all alone in her parents’ empty bungalow, she is quickly sent “home” to England, to live with an uncle she has never met. Although the “spoilt and sour” demeanor Mary exhibits at the start of the book is certainly in part the result of attachment issues caused by neglectful parents, it is also very clear that many of the things that trouble her about her new home are simply the result of culture shock. And, as is typical for TCKs “returning home” to their passport countries, her ignorance of local customs is perceived as willful insolence, and any mention she makes of “how things were done” in India, is perceived as boastful arrogance.It is only when she begins applying her TCK skills of “foreign” language acquisition (learning to speak the Yorkshire dialect spoken by the local people), studying the details of her new environment (learning to understand an appreciate the strange natural beauty and wildlife of the moor), and working on collaborative projects with local residents (reviving a neglected, secret garden), that she overcomes her grief, and begins to thrive in her passport culture.And the secret to her success? The “magic” of choosing to change her attitude toward the foreign land she now calls home.
  • (5/5)
    great book
  • (3/5)
    Mary's wealthy, indulgent, but completely unloving parents are killed in an epidemic in India, and she is shipped off to an uncle, who will provide for her every need except love and attention. The spoiled girl soon comes under the spell of Yorkshire, the young maid who attends to her, and it softens her obnoxious, self indulgent ways. When she meets the maid's brother, Dickon, he softens her further. Then she learns that her absent guardian has a son of his own, about her age, who believes he is dying - though he is not. She and Dickon manage to convince Colin that he is fine, and he grows healthy. Oh yes - and there's a secret garden involved in all of this.This nice tale has two distinct weaknesses. One is that the plot only develops for about two thirds of the book. The final third just plods along to the 100% predictable conclusion with no further development or plot twists. The second and more serious weakness is that the protagonist totally changes halfway through the book. As we start reading - this is a book about Mary Lennox. She is absolutely who this book is about. We root for her as she softens to become a likable child. Then, suddenly Colin shows up - as hateful as Mary was at the beginning, and he becomes the main character. Mary fades further and further into the background until she is merely an incidental character in Colin's story. OK, but definitely not up to par with other children's classics of the same era.
  • (5/5)
    A childhood classic!
  • (5/5)
    My favorite kids book.
  • (4/5)
    Finally, a classic I actually enjoyed. I was looking for an easy book that I had on my e-reader while on vacation and this seemed like one that I could easily finish while not taking too much of my attention away from other activities - was I wrong! This story, though slow at the beginning, was totally enchanting and grabbed me until I finished. It's wonderful the way that the author had the children grow and mature as individuals while still keeping their innocence.I was even lucky enough to see the movie right after I finished the book. The book was better!
  • (5/5)
    One of the most heart-warming stories ever told.
  • (5/5)
    Mary Lenox never saw too much of her parents - they were always too busy. But when they both die she has to move from her home in India to England where her "strange and sour" uncle lives. Will she ever have friends and truly be happy? I was 10 years old when my mother gave me this book for my birthday. We spent more than a week reading it aloud to one another. My Mom is 90 years old now and we still share those precious memories created with a lovely book and an inciting story. Five stars for those memories alone!
  • (4/5)
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, however I had a few problems with it. To begin, there was no set narrator. You didn't really get inside any character's head, and none of the character's were really "round." Even Mary, the protagonist, seemed distant to me. One of the things I cherish about books is the connection I have with the characters, and this was certainly a novel lacking in that aspect. Another issue was that the novel was so thoroughly a product of its time period that I found myself overwhelmed, especially by some of the morals. It seems to be a light children's book but the author is pushing Victorian ideals on the reader, on a deeper level. For example, Mary is a disagreeable, stubborn child until she finds the garden and then she does a total 180 and ends up likable. All she needed was something to care about and some love from children her own age. How sweet. Additionally, the Magic deals with power of Christianity and it got a little overwhelmingly religious at times.
    However, overall, this book was certainly beautiful, especially the language when describing the garden. I can see why it remains a childhood classic.
  • (4/5)
    I almost didn't write a review of this, but then I figured.... eh, just because I'm not sure I'll take the trick, doesn't mean I can't put my card on the table. Anyway, my brother was in a stage piece of this, (as Mr. Craven) when I was in middle school, I think, {not quite ten years ago, come to think of it-- back when I was a gosling!}, and so I watched every performance they gave-- three, I think-- and I obsessed over the soundtrack for awhile.... I found it all to be wonderfully depressing, which was a sort of grey blessing, since I was absolutely depressed myself at the time.... Anyway, I know that that sort of reflection might be seen as a bit amateurish or something, but theatre can be illuminating.... I saw a stage piece of a Sherlock Holmes a few weeks ago, which helped me realize how much I detest that stupid....Anyway. It can be a bit more grey than green.... And there's an obvious thrust at 'magic', I guess, but it just manages to shy away from total cynicism and doesn't quite.... sometimes it just doesn't.... sometimes you just can't quite feel the magic in the cards, you know.... sometimes children have flowers in their cups, and other times.... they're just a bunch of little.... Six and one, you know.... It might seem a little odd to compare this to 'Pride & Prejudice', (and I care not to know precisely what some of the 1911 crowd thought of dearest Jane), but that is easily explained-- I obsess about P&P, and compare all manner of phenomenon to it. And.... the thing is.... 'tisn't as good, is it.... I mean, I read that once Jane joked that she ought to have written a chapter about Napoleon, you see what I mean, some things are just better avoided.... And while it's certainly easy enough to see the sort of.... craven, application of the ethic of avoidance-- lock up the garden! Never go back in!-- still.... still.... I mean, this book itself isn't quite needing of avoidance, it's like *that*.... but almost, almost, at times..... I mean, to be rather cruel about it-- Kitty and Lydia die in a flood, Mary hates everyone, and Lizzie goes off and jumps in the mud with the goats and kids from the.... from the lanes, almost! I mean, I hate to be brusque about it-- since it's almost become my cardinal sin!-- but you can do that with anything, I mean, with girls.... I mean, I've sorta come to think that there are only five girls in the world, although unfortunately there are just too many times when it's like, Where's Jane? What did you *do* with her? (I mean, and.... I *hesitate* to call Mrs. Bennet a 'girl'; she's the Queen of Spades!) So, there's that. I mean, you can see, obviously, how it's not quite as bad, well, not nearly as bad, as it obviously could have been, so there's that.... I mean, thank merciful Juno that there are no bloody suffragette riots, and no Irish thugs {and my family comes from, Suffolk, by and by, just like all of the Keatings} to crack Sybil's head against the pavement-- that, I suppose, would be one of the cardinal benefits of living in what might be loosely denominated as 'the middle of nowhere', a sort of English Appalachia, where people still (1911) are to be heard uttering variations of "thou", such as "tha'" and so on-- but I mean.... "You come along back to your own nursery or I'll box your ears." I mean, I haven't read all of the novels, but I'd imitate my Irish ancestors and 'bet the dole', so to speak, that *nothing* like that, ever, ever, *ever*.... I mean, I don't think you could get Lady Austen to put a sentence like that in print, if you offered to pay her all the muslin in India.... Not if offered to celebrate *her* birthday, the way that we celebrate that of *Dickens*.... and I suppose, that that's why we *don't*. "I am just a poor boy and my story's seldom told." Shut, up! Wow, I really wasn't going to do that. You follow it though, don't you?.... Do you knit, no, Do you sew, no, Do you read, Yes, why..... "Vanity and pride are different things...." You know, *sometimes*, they are pretty much the same.... I mean, I honestly didn't want to snap my fingers like this.... It's feelings about magic aren't as obnoxiously and nauseatingly and stupidly insincere as something like C.S. Lewis ("Mere Christianity"-- yes, *mere*, christianity, indeed!), or Lewis Carroll ("Euclid and his Modern Rivals"-- damn Anglophones! *Teach them in Greek!*) might write.... or something that *Wickham* might say.... And, yes, I do hiss, I hiss at the very name, at very *shadow* of that name.... I am a little mean sometimes, though.... the girl is the one who stands out, hahaha..... Although not here.... I mean, at least it's England, not Narnia.... or Kandahar.... .... Just because you dine at Pemberley, doesn't mean that you're stupid.... Just because you're not in one of those real Clint Eastwood movies, you know, looking the gritty truth of the world in eye, just like.... (Look the cold truth in the eye! Stare into the abyss!) I mean, like, it's not that hard to figure out what the orphans of the British Army are like, is it? It's not as though you've got to read "The River War", do you.... *or even this book*! I mean, if Mr. Bennet, *acting as though he wouldn't* go call on Bingely is bad, very bad, even, then how bad is it, if he *never* does, because.... he's not, *anywhere*? Very Bad Indeed, I should say.... Say, what would happen, were I to drink from that poisoned well? ~Well, that would be, Very Bad Indeed. ~Ah. I see. What more? What more is there? I mean, I do hope that my manner hasn't gone ill with anyone, and I am sure that just because I have alot to say-- more than I really meant to-- doesn't mean that I've balanced every word just so, the way that I might like.... But, anyway, it could surely have been worse-- and that is something, that is surely something....Although Mary could have played cribbage with Martha, and I'm sure they both could have gotten something out of that.... not that I dislike Martha, not at all.(It's just that she's not a girl; she's a servant. Did you ever read "And Then There Were None"? Another one of these lovely post-Victorian pieces-- see, I told you it could be *worse*! Anyway, "the women" always meant the two women, not the two women and the servant's wife.... Such bitter business, though-- better not to think on it....) Anyway. It need not really be marked for avoidance, though it does have a little grey in it. There's just better and worse, that's all. (8/10)
  • (5/5)
    Despite some flaws, namely Dickon, little brother of servant Martha, being absolutely flawless, and his mother (Mrs. Sowerby) being a bit too preachy about how having the right attitude solves your troubles, I think this is a great read for adults as well as kids. Two very troubled, but spoiled and bossy, children work out their own problems with only minor assistance from adults, and they make their own creative use of the small bits of help given by adults. For example, Mrs. Sowerby sends a skip rope for little Mary Lennox, who was recently orphaned in India and new to her uncle's large and lonely estate on the moors of England. A sour and demanding girl of seven, she has been accustomed to having every little thing done for, even being dressed, her by Indian servants, and slapping their faces whenever she's displeased. That won't fly in England. The skip rope gets Mary outside, exploring. She explores the house and discovers Colin, the hidden-away, invalid son of her uncle, a widower and world traveler who avoids his problems and his son simply by staying away. Little Dickon, an earthy boy at one with plants and animals, befriends Mary and Colin. The two miserable children not only learn to use their own brains to find their way, but they don't need magic, special powers, weapons, or spectacular external events to move the plot along. It is a story of inner transformation of these children, discovering and working with the quiet "magic" of Nature, using the stuff that they are made of as ordinary humans. Mary and Colin are also transformed by having met their match (each other) as nasty, demanding, spoiled, yet deeply wounded, kids. Mary is not about to be ordered around the way Colin orders his servants and nurse around, and if Colin likes having the company of another child for a change, he'll have to change. Very good writing as well as a good story.
  • (4/5)
    Mini Book Review: I was disappointed when I first started the book as I heard so many fabulous things about this classic. I almost gave up after about 30 pages as it was hard to read about a child who was just utterly unlikeable (and yes I can see how she bacame that way) But than something happened about 45 pages in I started falling in love with her and wanted to know more. Such a charming, beautiful story and I now know why so many people list this as one of their favorite stories. Since I have to get 3 reviews done by New Years Eve (Tomorrow) this is going to be a quickie review. Fabulous character development and wonderful use of setting. You felt like you knew these characters and let me tell you the whole time I was reading, I also imagined that I was on the moors with the children. As a child this would be a truly marvelous read. As an adult my only negative comments would be that some might stop reading because at the beginning Mary is so unlikeable. Also the ending is a tad saccharine and predictable - but I really didn't mind that as I am a big softie. To put it simply it is a lovely sweet innocent tale of the importance of play, good fresh air and the power of imagination.4.5 Dewey'sI purchased this at the Indigo at the Eaton Centre for my BBC 100 Top Books Challenge (Yeah I totally failed I only finished 2 of the 5 I was going to review - but hey I moved across the country and became at stay at home mom)
  • (4/5)
    Enjoyed it very much...a touching story from one of my favorite time periods with a very positive timeless message regarding the power of positive thinking...contrast with more adult current books...The Secret and Ayn Rand's Fountainhead...a must for every young persons reading list...and some older folk like me....:-)
  • (5/5)
    I was pleased nearly beyond measure when I saw this audio on my library's list. I love listening to books as I fall asleep. It's difficult to listen to new books, though, as I lose track of my place. Books I know and love are what I like best for bedtime, and this is a book I know nearly by heart.

    Revisiting it now, I find it prefigures so many of my other favorites- I hear echoes of Roethke, I see a glimpse of Sam Gamgee in his old age, I think of Alec Ramsey in his heady rush of freedom riding a wild stallion into his future, I see Emily Webb trying to talk to the living, and young Gerry Durrell peering into the heart of a rose to see the spider change color.

    I found this book so long ago I have no memory of a time I didn't know it. My childhood was full of gardens, and I yearned for a secret garden of my own. I found the loving descriptions of weeding and pruning comforting and full of continuity. I loved watching the waking of the garden and of Mary and Colin.

    One of the things I love most about this book is the way in which it lovingly delineates all the different ways the characters come alive. That's one of the things that makes it timeless- I could read it at 9 and identify with Mary, at 14 with Dickon, at 30 with Susan. Now, it's Ben Weatherstaff, marveling at the springing life and beauty around him, failing utterly to hold back tears and wearing a grumpy face despite his soaring heart.

    Perhaps of my favorite passage, one that springs to mind when I'm slack-jawed and full of wonder, often in the garden:

    "One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in some one’s eyes."
  • (5/5)
    Very good narration by Josephine Bailey made this reread of a childhood favorite even more fun.
  • (5/5)
    "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett is the story of a young girl from India who befriends Collin, the sickly son of Archibold Craven, lord of Missethwaite Manor, located in England.The girl's name is Mary, who has just left India after becoming orphaned by a terrible plague. She slowly pulls Collin out of his sickbed, and into radiant health. She does so by introducing him to his late mother's once-neglected walled garden.I felt this classic was compelling and poignant. I loved the fact that the protagonist was a misfit. She held her own as a quintessential character, along with Collin and Dickon, the young gardener who helps her rescue the quiescent spirit of the garden itself. Mary has an optimistic viewpoint, contrary to the views held by his physician, Dr. Craven, and Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper. However, Collin is just as complex in his inner character, and his change is just as significant as Mary's.I recommend this book to anyone who has known someone who is ill. It is the story of a child awakening to the power of optimism, friendship, intention, and care.Breton W Kaiser Taylor
  • (5/5)
    This is probably the loveliest book I've ever read.

    Mary Lennox was born in India and was raised by her ayah, without love from anyone. An then she has to go live at her uncle's in Yorkshire, England.

    This is a book about the discovery of love, about people learning how to care for each other. The way the story is told, the characters, the way they talk are so innocent that you can't help to smile because everything is so beautiful.

    Important: this is not exclusive for children. This is one those stories that can be read by anyone, at any age. The writing is not so childish as in most children's books.

    And the characters are really the most lovable ones. There's probably no one in the world who wouldn't love Dickon, a boy who loves everything about the nature and is friends with animals.

    I really cannot put into words how beautiful this book is. "The Secret Garden" is one of my favorite movies of all time, and now I can understand how such a movie was possible.
  • (5/5)
    Hale introduces each chapter with a song lyrics or poetry from quarry village, Mount Eskel, where the next princess of the land is destined to come from. The setting is clearly established in the first chapter though the lead character Miri banking the coals, hanging goat dung out to dry and adding water to the salt port. She hears and hums the songs of the working quarry men mining for linder. The story is a tightly woven tapestry with the themes of friendship, community, family, work, and education. Each theme is well developed starting from a simple observation or thought of Miri building through each chapter. Hale twists the typical image of princess from a young woman solely immersed in social graces and dances to that of young women trying to better the lives of themselves and their community. Miri
  • (5/5)
    This was a re-read. No matter how many times I read this book, and that has been many, I still thoroughly enjoy it! I rate it right up there with Jane Eyre which I have also read many times.
  • (5/5)
    This book is about a little girl, Mary Lennox, who is orphaned after both her parents die of Cholera in India. She is sent to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven, in England but feels that she’s just as unwanted there as she was with her own parents. Being left to her own devices she learns that Mr. Craven’s wife died in a tragic accident but spent all of her time in a favorite garden that is now locked and hidden. By exploring the manor and the land she soon discovers the secret garden as well as her own cousin, Colin (the son of Mr. and Mrs. Craven) hidden away in a room due to his presumed spinal condition. Mary sneaks Colin out and with the help of their new friend Dickon, they begin to bring the garden back to life as well as restore Colin’s health and ability to walk. Mr. Craven, who spends most of his time brooding and traveling, comes home to discover the children in the garden and is shocked to find that his son can walk. The family is reunited and strengthened.I loved this book. There are so many interesting themes throughout the book as well as many mysteries. My favorite part of the book was when Mr. Craven finds Colin walking and running and realizes that, in his attempt to rid himself of his beloved wife’s tragedy, he has neglected his only son. I would be lying if I didn’t tear up at the thought of the family united by my Mary’s impertinence, curiosity, and determination. The characters seem very real and believable and I think that there is something in this book in which any child can relate.Classroom Extension Ideas:1.The children can choose a spot on school property (or they can use various pots) to plant their own secret garden. They can research and choose the different kinds of plants they will plant and take turns caring for the class’s secret garden.2.It might be interesting for older children to do different research activities about various things in this book. They could research the disease Cholera since it is pretty extinct these days. They could also do country studies on England and India. They could offer these studies in the form of a research paper, photo collage, or classroom presentation.
  • (5/5)
    The Secret Garden is a book I have enjoyed again and again since childhood because of its themes and exciting plot. The story follows a young girl, Mary Lennox, and her journey from India after the death of her parents to her Uncle Archibald Craven’s estate in Yorkshire. Mary is an unhappy and unwell girl who finds solstice in search of a “secret garden” that once belonged to her uncle’s wife, Mistress Craven. She befriends the servants, gardeners and Dickon who assist her in nurturing the garden that has gone untouched but once a year since Mistress Craven’s passing. Mary also becomes interested in Master Craven’s son, Colin, whose cries she hears one night and is forbidden to seek out their source by the head servant, Mrs. Medlock. Mary finds the boy anyway and quickly realizes that his sadness stems from the belief that he will become a hunchback like his father and he will die young. Mary brings him to the garden with Dickon where Colin stands on his own for the first time. The author leads the reader to believe that the secret garden is responsible for Colin’s miraculous recovery, as well as Mary’s revival from her parents’ death. Themes include “mind over matter” and health having a direct relationship with outlook, as well as the importance of faith and human relationships.
  • (3/5)
    this book is a classic ... no matter how old you are .... or how trhis book is its amazing
    the breathtaking description of the way the garden grows is so beautiful!!!

    This book will continue to be read for many more years!!!